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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pitcher Tests Positive For Marijuana, Giants Then Draft Him (Obviously)

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 12:33 PM

Phil Bickford, presented without comment. - CSU FULLERTON
  • CSU Fullerton
  • Phil Bickford, presented without comment.
The San Francisco Giants are OK with a little marijuana use, as Tim Lincecum's brush with the law a few years back demonstrated. (Though the less said about the team's history with performance-enhancing drugs, the better).

And though it probably worked in Timmy's favor that he was popped by police in Washington state after sparking a bowl in his Mercedes while at the height of his Cy Young Award-winning freakdom, the Giants are apparently OK with pot use by top prospects, too. 

The Giants used their first round pick in this year's amateur draft to select right-handed pitcher Phil Bickford. A Southern California native who attended Cal State Fullerton for three years, Bickford was a Top 10 draft selection in 2013. This year, he tested positive for marijuana in pre-draft drug test this year, according to reports.

No problem for the Giants. Welcome to San Francisco, Mr. Bickford.

The full Bickford. - CSU FULLERTON
  • CSU Fullerton
  • The full Bickford.

Sports freaks will be interested to know that the 6-foot-4 Bickford dominated opposition at the JC level this year, going 9-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 166 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings. That is to say, he is very, very good.

Bickford did that pitching in Nevada, where medical cannabis is legal and where recreational cannabis could be legal well before Californians even have the chance to vote on it. 

All top draft prospects in Major League Baseball are subjected to a random drug test in the 30 days before the draft, according to Baseball America, which first reported the positive test. If prospects do not pee, they can't be drafted.

MLB does prohibit its players from using marijuana. However, the league's policy with players busted for cannabis is notoriously lenient and nothing like the NFL's police state-like policy. A first offense mandates more testing — and in fact, while refusing to participate in testing for banned substances and hard drugs can trigger an automatic 15-game suspension for a first-time offender, there's a specific exception to that for cannabis in MLB players' collective bargaining agreement.

Bickford was drafted tenth overall last year by the Toronto Blue Jays but elected to keep pitching in college rather than signing. There was talk before the draft that his stock could have taken a hit thanks to the marijuana use. If that's true, and other teams shied away from a top pitching prospect for a little pot, their kneejerk foolishness is the Giants' gain.

This is as good as time as any to remind readers that cannabis is considered a "performance enhancing drug" by the World Anti Doping Agency. 
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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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