In 1970, then President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act into law as an attempt to better regulate drug use. At the time, Nixon put marijuana under schedule I, the highest classification for drugs. This put marijuana on the same level as heroin, Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD).
California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996. In 2012 Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Since then, six other states and the District of Columbia have legalized it. However, marijuana still remains illegal as a schedule I drug at the federal level.
College and professional athletes have to answer to their prospective leagues which say that they cannot smoke marijuana. But, should they be able to use marijuana if they are going to school in a state where recreational use is legal?
As much as I want to say yes they should, because it is still illegal federally, private institutions are still able to fire you if you are caught consuming the drug. The NCAA making the use of marijuana against the rules is the same as an employer firing you for failing a drug test; companies have every right to do that.
This becomes an argument of federal law versus state law and if marijuana was not labeled as a schedule I drug, it would be hard to argue against the federal government just letting it go. Until they reclassify marijuana or make it legal federally, the NCAA has to continue prohibiting student-athletes to smoke and making them ineligible if they are caught.