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Las Vegas Attorney Presents Arguments in Response to Disciplinary Action Against UFC Fighter Nick Diaz for Marijuana

By Guest Author March 26, 2012 Las Vegas Attorney Presents Arguments in Response to Disciplinary Action Against UFC Fighter Nick Diaz for Marijuana
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LAS VEGAS, NV — Las Vegas attorney Ross C. Goodman has filed a strong response to the Nevada Athletic Commission’s (NAC) announcement of an undetermined punishment for Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Nick Diaz, who tested positive for trace amounts of the inactive metabolite for marijuana (THC-Carboxylic Acid) after a controversial loss to Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight championship at UFC 143 in February.

UFC welterweight fighter Nick Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites following a pay-per-view event Feb. 4 in Las Vegas. (image/Tiago Hammil)

Goodman, of the Las Vegas-based Goodman Law Group, P.C. points to the NAC’s Rules which only prohibit the active ingredient of marijuana (Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol or “THC”) “in-competition” as opposed to the inactive metabolite. Goodman states in his Response to the NAC’s Complaint for Disciplinary Action that the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) does not provide for a similar prohibition against marijuana use “out-of-competition.”

Notably, WADA’s Rules are expressly adopted by the NAC. This distinction recognizes the psychoactive effects associated with the active ingredient of marijuana subsides within a couple hours after consumption even though the inactive metabolite of marijuana may last days to months stored in fat tissues. As a result, any concerns that such effects may compromise fighter safety does not exist “out-of-competition.”

In his Response, Goodman also notes that WADA does not consider marijuana metabolite a prohibited substance. The inactive metabolite does not contain the psychoactive substance found in the active ingredient of marijuana or possess any pharmacological effects that could either enhance performance or compromise fighter’s safety. Goodman says that this benign substance does not meet WADA’s criteria for a prohibited substance and, therefore, does not constitute a violation of NAC 487.850.

Aside from the fact that WADA does not consider marijuana metabolite a prohibited substance, Goodman also points out that Nevada specifically removed marijuana and marijuana metabolites from the definition of a prohibited substance for registered users of medical marijuana.

Nick Diaz has registered with California and issued an identification card to use medical marijuana to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Goodman also explains that Nick Diaz discontinues legally consuming medical marijuana eight days before a fight including in his preparation for UFC 143. Dr. John Hiatt, a Ph.D. from Yale in the field of organic chemistry, found that the “presence of 25ng/mL of inactive metabolite in Diaz’s post-fight urine sample is consistent with Diaz’s protocol of discontinuing medical marijuana use eight (8) days before the fight.” The release of low levels of inactive metabolites after a five round fight (longer than any of Diaz’s previous fights in2011) and the physiological effects caused by losing 8 pounds more than his average weight loss may have contributed to the elevated levels detected above the cut off level of 15ng/mL.

In response to these arguments raised by Ross C. Goodman, the Attorney General’s Office  responsible for presenting the matter before the NAC, publically attacked Nick Diaz by calling him a “liar” for denying that he received “prescription medication” on a pre-printed form given to him at the weigh-in. Goodman responded by stating that “no one would confuse the state-run patient registry identification cards with that of a prescription.”

This attack shows a complete lack of understanding of medical marijuana laws especially since physicians are prohibited from “prescribing” marijuana because it is a Schedule 1 substance. Also, common sense suggests that you cannot walk into a pharmacy with a marijuana card and pick up marijuana. In elevating their mistake, the AGO also mistakenly claimed that the pre-fight questionnaire was a “sworn” statement under oath when in fact the form clearly stated that such information provided at the weigh-ins was limited to the “best of my knowledge.”

In short, Goodman wants the NAC to focus on its mission to ensure that fights are conducted in a “fair manner” and the “each fighter’s health is not compromised.” The presence of a metabolite stored in Diaz’s fat tissues from legal use more than one week before the fight did not enhance performance or compromise his health.