I’m not exactly sure why Nick Diaz is spending money on a lawyer to fight his marijuana suspension if he’s decided he’s retiring from fighting. But he is, and the lawyer sounds like he’s worth every penny he’s being paid. Here’s the defense they’ve just put forward to the Nevada State Athletic Commission:
“Marijuana is the only substance that is prohibited; not marijuana metabolites,” Goodman told ESPN.com.
“The basis to discipline Mr. Diaz is that he tested positive for a prohibited substance. We know he didn’t test positive for marijuana. So, you look to see at WADA whether marijuana metabolites are prohibited. They do not prohibit it in any category.”
In a sworn affidavit submitted with the response, Diaz stated he has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder for which he was prescribed medical marijuana by his physician, Robert E. Sullivan. Medical marijuana is legal in both Nevada and California, where Diaz resides.
Diaz and his camp have said the fighter suspends his use of marijuana eight days prior to a contest. Under the statues set forth by the NSAC, athletes are not punished for using marijuana out-of-competition.
According to Goodman, the substance Diaz tested positive for was THC-Carboxylic Acid, an inactive marijuana metabolite. NSAC executive director Keith Kizer was unavailable to comment on that claim Monday.
The response filed to the commission, therefore, challenges that Diaz merely tested positive for an inactive metabolite, which is not listed as a prohibited substance.
“You have to test positive for marijuana, as opposed to this inactive ingredient Nick did,” Goodman said.
“If there’s nothing in the rules prohibiting marijuana metabolites, why are we here?”
This might just be some fancy lawyer wordplay going on right here. There’s a huge list of performance enhancing and banned substances which are only detectable because of various metabolites found in an athlete’s system after the fact. The metabolite isn’t always the banned substance, it’s often just the indicator that a banned substance was taken.
That doesn’t mean Nick’s lawyer’s defense doesn’t make a lot of sense. Between an official declaration that ‘out of competition’ use is allowed and the fact that Diaz has a legit script for usage, it seems to me like the guy should be cut some slack. But the NSAC runs off rulebooks and even the most obvious solutions to issues are often ignored because they don’t fit into the existing guidelines and framework of the commission.
Don’t be surprised if the commission says “Yeah, you’ve made a good point, one that we’ll revisit during a 2014 rules meeting. For now though, your THC concentration level was above 50 so you’re still suspended.”