NBA star Kevin Durant has entered a new partnership with the cannabis technology platform Weedmaps that will focus on removing the stigma associated with cannabis use and how marijuana can improve a person’s health and overall wellness.
In taking the step, Durant has gone beyond what most active athletes do (the 32-year-old Durant just signed a four-year contract extension with the Brooklyn Nets). While many retired stars advocate for cannabis, Durant is rare among current players in taking a pros-cannabis stance.
In an interview with ESPN, Durant said: “I think it’s far past time to address the stigmas around cannabis that still exist in the sports world as well as globally. This partnership is going to help us continue to normalize those conversations.”
Durant’s Marijuana Stance Unthinkable a Decade Ago
Change has come rapidly for cannabis. A large majority of the population now favors legalization. More than a third of the population now lives where marijuana is legal for recreational use. Congress may make weed legal at the federal level.
Sports have also changed. The major professional sports leagues have made changes so that a positive marijuana drug test does not automatically lead to a penalty. The NFL is even investigating the potential medical uses of cannabis. It’s a different world.
Still, Kevin Durant is blazing new territory. Ten years ago – even five years ago – it would seem unthinkable. And even he draws a line. He wouldn’t speak to ESPN about his personal cannabis use. And the article pointed out that the NBA still officially bans marijuana use, leaving cannabis in a “decriminalized gray area.“ The NBA stopped testing for marijuana during the 2020 season (played in a pandemic-caused “bubble” in Orlando) and testing did not resume for the 2020-2021 season.
What Durant Will Do In New Partnership
Weedmaps does not directly deal with marijuana. The company provides an online platform to connect customers and cannabis retailers. Through the new partnership, Durant’s company Thirty Five Ventures will form a collaborative content partnership with the tech platform.
That content will focus on combating marijuana myths as well as advocating for cannabis legalization. Along with Boardroom, Durant’s media company, Weedmaps will develop an original content series in 2022. Durant’s companies will also get dedicated space on the Weedmaps site.
Durant told Forbes the new deal allows him to move out front in advocating for the use of cannabis for health and wellbeing among athletes and everyone else. He said that’s a switch from years past, when use of cannabis happened as “kind of an undercover thing” in the sports world. That’s changed, and now he hears conversations around cannabis more and more from people within the league.
Former NBA player Matt Barnes, who said he used cannabis during his 14-year career, told ESPN that Durant’s move will make an impact both inside and outside the league.
“There’s a shifting culture and it takes a superstar like KD to embrace this and help others not be afraid to discuss the benefits,” he said.