• Daniel Saad

NBA no Longer Testing Players for Marijuana

The NBA won’t test its players for marijuana during the 2020-21 season.

The league didn’t test players in its reboot of the 2019-20 season in July in the Orlando Bubble. The decision not to test athletes rested heavily on COVID-19 precautions. Yet, we continue to move in a direction where the league could permanently eliminate marijuana testing.

Photo: Inside Sports

Weed is legal in 16 states, many in which the NBA plays. Its effects have been proven to provide healing for the body and help with anxiety and depression. Tom Haberstroh and Monte Poole of NBC Sports reported: “six different NBA players, who did not want to be identified, estimated that the percentage of active players using marijuana in some form – buds, edibles, concentrates, CBD oils, lotions, patches – was at least 50 percent and as high as 85 percent.”

The late great Cliff Robinson was a pioneer for the legalization of marijuana, creating his line of weed products called “Uncle Cliffy,” a nickname he was crowned with during his playing days in the NBA. In 2017, he stated the vision behind the brand was for athletes and was to feature muscle recovery and pain relief benefits of the plant. He spoke about how he used cannabis to relieve anxiety and maintain focus and how he wanted products like ointments to address specific athletic woes.

Superstar Kevin Durant and former and current NBA players have advocated allowing player consumption of marijuana during the season to help aid physical pain and mental illness. Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson have made it known on their All the Smoke podcast that they smoked regularly during their playing days and the benefits they felt from doing so.

“All my best games, I was medicated,” Barnes said in an interview with the Washington Post. “We were playing in Indiana one day, I wasn’t feeling well, I had a hamstring or a hip injury or something, so I smoked. I wasn’t going to play originally. So we got to the arena, I was like ‘I feel good.’ I went and told the trainer I’m gonna go today. I went out there and had a great game.”

Commissioner Adam Silver says the league doesn’t mind if players smoke cannabis legally during their annual summer break, but he labeled it a complicated issue for in-season use. He’s worried about what kind of message the league would be sending to its younger fans if weed was consumed during the season by players under one of the largest spotlights in the world.

Society is becoming more progressive with smoking marijuana, and it’s about time some of these entities did as well. After a summer where the NBA was at the forefront of racial justice, they look to tackle the discussion of marijuana use for their players.

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