The NFL may take marijuana off its list of banned substances if the new collective bargaining agreement gets approved. Major League Baseball has already taken that step and the NHL no longer automatically suspends players for testing positive for marijuana use.
But the NBA marijuana policy remains unchanged.
Other leagues have made changes in reaction to recreational marijuana becoming legal in Washington D.C. and 11 other states. Leagues have come to realize that it’s impossible to create rules banning marijuana for all players in all markets when many of them (in big markets such as Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle) have access to legal, adult-use cannabis.
Interestingly, the NBA has not taken this step, even though former and current players and coaches have advocated for use of marijuana to treat sports-related pain. Former player and current cannabis entrepreneur Al Harrington told NBC that it’s like the NBA “is policing us like we’re kids.”
No One Plans to Play High
The holdout by the NBA is intriguing because it is generally considered the most liberal sports league in the U.S. But Harrington said they treat the players as if the players are determined to play high. He called that “stupid” and noted that no one accuses NBA players of taking the court drunk even though alcohol is legal.
Harrington said, “If I’m going to play against Kevin Durant tonight, why would I get as high as I can and come to the game and play Kevin Durant high?”
Harrington said NBA athletes come to each game prepared to play “at the highest level in the world.” Harrington has long been an advocate for cannabis use to help players manage aches and pains. He now runs three cannabis companies: Viola Extracts, Harrington Wellness and Butter Baby.
Before his death, former NBA commissioner David Stern had reached the point where he thought cannabis should get legalized. Current commissioner Adam Silver said in the past that the issue is not an ethical or moral one and that he simply wants to “follow the science.”
Durant Equates Cannabis With Alcohol
In a recent interview, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said that a stigma still surrounds marijuana use. He pointed out that plenty of players drink caffeine all day and that many have a glass of wine or a “little drink here and there.”
Yet, no one gives them a hard time about using those substances. But they still do with marijuana.
Durant said that is unfortunate because marijuana is a “plant that brings us all together.” He added, “Why are we even talking about it? It shouldn’t even be a conversation now. So hopefully we can get past that and the stigma around it and know that it does nothing but make people have a good time, make people hungry, bring people together.”