Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is the reigning NBA coach of the year. Kerr said in a recent radio interview that he believes sports leagues should reconsider their current positions on marijuana.
While admitting he is no expert, Kerr did say he believes that cannabis is better for athletes than the drugs they are prescribed for pain.
“Vicodin is not good for you. It’s not. It’s way worse for you than pot,” Kerr said, according to ESPN.
Kerr made his comments during an interview on a CSN Bay Area podcast and then during a follow up interview with ESPN.
Marijuana Comments Cause Controversy for Sports Leagues
Kerr’s comments received a deluge of media attention, even if the coach said they were taken somewhat out of context. The original discussion on CSN Bay Area involved how to help players with pain management, not the larger issue of marijuana legalization.
He told ESPN he was at first a bit surprised by the reaction, but came to the conclusion that the coverage is a good thing.
“I’m actually kind of glad it became an issue,” he said. “It’s a very important issue to talk about. Having gone through a tough spell over the last year with my own recovery from back surgery, and a lot of pain, I had to do a lot of research. You get handed prescriptions for Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, NFL players, that’s what they’re given. The stuff is awful. The stuff is dangerous. “
Kerr, 51, underwent back surgery two years ago and said he tried cannabis to help relieve the pain but that it did not help him. However, he said, the attempt proved to be worth it because he found that other painkillers and drugs “have been worse” at helping with his pain.
Kerr himself was a player for many years, winning championships with the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs.
In the wake of the interview, the NBA issued a statement reiterating that the association has placed marijuana on its list of banned substances and that coaches, as well as players, are subject to drug tests.
Obviously, with voters in 27 states approving medical marijuana, many people agree with Kerr that marijuana has potential as a relief for chronic pain.
The nation’s biggest sports league, the National Football League, has said it is working with the players’ association on researching the possibilities of marijuana use for pain relief. On the league’s own website, Ian Rapoport, known as the “media insider” reporter, said 10 NFL owners told him they think the league’s policies on marijuana possession and use should change.
Some even suggested doing away with penalties all together, Rapoport reported. They noted that a player in Seattle, where recreational marijuana use is legal, would not face a criminal charge for possessing cannabis and therefore would not face a league suspension.
On the other hand, a player in Indianapolis or Dallas doing exactly the same thing would. “One owner asked, ‘Is that even fair?’” Rapoport said in a video interview.
In a sense, the issue presents a microcosm of what is happening across the country outside of sports. The majority of voters in a majority of states believe, as does Kerr, that those in pain should at least have the option to try marijuana.
And sports leagues that operate around the country face the same challenges as state and local governments – in some places, both medical and recreational use is legal, and in others it is not. Until a change is made in federal law, which continues to list marijuana as an illegal substance, expect these issues to continue to arise.