With news surfacing this week that UFC heavyweight Dave Herman had been pulled from the UFC 136 lineup after testing positive for marijuana one of the more-debated questions in MMA reared its ugly head again.

Is pot a performance enhancing drug?

Some might argue it most certainly is not, as smoking marijuana can have a number of effects not necessarily conducive to becoming a world-class athlete (loss of coordination, problems focusing/learning, and sluggishness for example). Others would point to the substance’s painkilling properties and ability to provide a feeling of relaxation that might help cope with the rigors/stress of being a professional fighter.

The answer to the query lies somewhere in the middle with the needle pointing slightly towards “no”.

PEDs are by definition intended to improve one’s ability or performance while fighters who smoke marijuana aren’t doing so to gain a competitive advantage. There isn’t a guy out there with any credibility who would smoke a joint before each training session because he felt it would assist him in becoming a better fighter. High-level fighters are too busy rolling on the mat to spend a ton of time rolling anything else. Rather, marijuana is used much in the same way alcohol is – to have a good time while hanging out with friends. Thinking otherwise is antiquated at best and straight up ignorant at worst.

Yes, there are effects that could be beneficial to fighters but not to the extent they can be utilized unfairly or even helpful from an overall perspective. Usage in MMA should be illegal because the drug is illegal but getting caught for doing so shouldn’t be penalized the same as an anabolic steroid or diuretic would.

The bottom line is this. Performance enhancing in MMA, no. Performance enhancing in EA Sports MMA…possibly.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!