Epileptic HS football player declared ineligible for NCAA due to cannabis oil use

Published: May. 26, 2018 at 7:35 PM CDT
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A Georgia high school football player who takes cannabis oil to prevent his seizures has been ruled ineligible to play in college.

C.J. Harris helped lead Warner Robins High School to the Georgia state championship game and committed to play for Auburn University next season. But he was recently notified by Auburn coaches that the NCAA will not allow him to play if he remains on cannabis oil.

Harris was a sophomore in high school when he was diagnosed with epilepsy. He tried a combination of pills and other medicine before being prescribed cannabis oil by his doctor. He started taking it January 2017.

The cannabis oil Harris takes for his seizures contains less than 0.3% THC, according to the label. He won't be able to pass an NCAA drug test while on the medicine.

"We urge the NCAA to review their existing guidelines on THC and explore possible exceptions to allow players under medical treatment, like C.J., the ability to fulfill their dreams of playing college football," Phil Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group, said in a statement. "We hope the NCAA would reconsider their decision and assess C.J. on his character and talent as a football player."

The NCAA has not responded to a request for comment.

Harris is looking at junior colleges and NAIA programs to play for next season. He says he'll check in with some new doctors in the coming months to see if there are any alternate medicines he could take that would allow him to pass a drug test and play at the highest level of college football.