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UFC Vegas 34’s Kelvin Gastelum discusses USADA’s new marijuana policy: ‘It’s one less worry that I need to have’

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MMA: AUG 18 UFC Vegas 34 Media Day Photo by Diego Ribas/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kelvin Gastelum no longer has to worry about failing a drug test for marijuana use. The middleweight contender is happy to see the rule changed by United States Anti-Doping Agency (UDSADA) and the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) earlier this year and it has given Gastelum one less thing to think about come fight time.

Gastelum, who fights Jared Cannonier later tonight (Sat., Aug. 21, 2021) at UFC Vegas 34 live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, has always been in favor of taking marijuana off the banned substance list. The eight-year UFC vet doesn’t believe it provides any advantage inside or outside of the cage. Gastelum has used it in the past to help him relax, but nothing that gives him an upper hand over an opponent.

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“Everybody knows the use (of marijuana) is not something that’s an advantage; if anything I think it’s the contrary,” Gastelum told MMA Junkie. “I think someone that uses marijuana is actually in a way harming themselves, but it also helps athletes like me relax – just relax the muscles and the nerves – and it has many advantages, but in other forms.

“But for athletes to be compare to a PED, I don’t think it’s necessary to label it under a PED like steroids or testosterone. I just don’t see it that way.”

Gastelum, 29, has actually tested positive for marijuana twice throughout his tenure with UFC. His first failed test came prior to a bout with middleweight legend Anderson Silva back in 2017 and also saw his knockout win over Vitor Belfort overturned. Gastelum then popped again for marijuana in late 2019 and was suspended for nine months, but that was later reduced to five months.

“I don’t know (why) that rule has been there for a long time,” Gastelum said. “Obviously there’s a stigma and a certain thought when it comes down to that. I think today there’s still many people who see it in a negative way.”

“(My family) didn’t know. Obviously my mom is Mexican, and she’s sometimes very antiquated in her thoughts, so she was very upset. All my friends who have Hispanic moms also went through the same.”

While Gastelum is no longer using marijuana close to his fights at least he doesn’t have to worry about failing for a third time if something did happen to show up. There are certainly more important things to worry about when preparing for a UFC fight, but Gastelum has found a little relief knowing his hard work won’t be wiped out by a positive test.

“Yeah, of course, it’s one less worry that I need to have in my head,” Gastelum said. “But regardless, during the week of the fight, I’m not consuming. Before the fight, I’m not doing it just to keep my mind clear and not up in the clouds.” will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 34 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN2/ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.