NBA marijuana testing of athletes will once again not happen during the 2022-2023 basketball season, according to sources close to the league. Sports journalist, Ben Dowsett, tweeted that his sources report that random cannabis tests will not take place this season, for the third year in a row.
His tweet also mentions that permanent removal of random marijuana testing is expected to be covered during the upcoming CBA negotiations between the NBA and the players association.
No NBA Marijuana Testing Since 2019-2020 Season
The NBA first suspended random testing for marijuana during the end of the 2019-2020 basketball season when teams played in “the bubble,” an area in Florida where all the teams played, for the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dowsett later broke the news that the rule suspension would continue during the 2020-2021 season.
Even after players were able to leave the bubble, the officials decided to suspend NBA marijuana testing for players. During the 2021-2022 season, NBA spokesman Mike Bass announced that the league would instead “focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse.”
Though the NBA has not made an official announcement yet, making the end of marijuana testing permanent seems more likely with each passing year. When the NBA first suspended marijuana testing in 2020, Commissioner Adam Silver said that society’s opinion about marijuana has changed.
“We decided that, given all the things that were happening in society, given all the pressures and stress that players were under, that we didn’t need to act as Big Brother right now,” Silver said at the time.
Current and Former NBA Stars in Cannabis Business
Some current and former NBA players have already made their pro-marijuana opinions known. Kevin Durant is an outspoken cannabis advocate, partnering with a technology platform to help end the stigma against marijuana. Former NBA Hall of Famer, Chris Webber, has launched his own cannabis company.
Other professional sports leagues have already changed their marijuana-related policies in recent years. Major League Baseball has been on the forefront of cannabis acceptance in professional sports, having removed cannabis from the list of banned substances back in 2019.
In the past few years, MLB executives have continued to examine their cannabis policies and make changes when necessary. For example, in 2020 they allowed players to use marijuana products, but maintained a rule that banned MLB players from being sponsored by a marijuana company or making any investments in the cannabis industry. During the 2022 season, they changed this policy.
MLB teams are now allowed to have CBD products as sponsors, as long as they meet certain criteria. NSF International, a consumer safety and product-testing organization used by sports leagues, must certify CBD products. The MLB commissioner’s office also must authorize the sponsors.
In early October, Charlotte’s Web Holdings, a popular brand of hemp-derived CBD, signed a deal to become the “Official CBD of MLB.”
These changes in professional sports mirror the changing public sentiment about marijuana in the U.S. in recent years. States continue to decriminalize and legalize cannabis across the United States, with only three states in the country having no public cannabis access program as of 2022.