The National Basketball Association (NBA) halted drug testing when players went on lockdown in March. The NBA drug test won’t include recreational drugs again until next season.
Testing for performance enhancing drugs is a different story though. It resumed for teams reporting to Orlando to live in the Disney bubble for the shortened season.
The NBA doesn’t stress on players using marijuana during the off season and if a player tests positive, penalties are considered to be on the lenient side of things. The NBA may be changing its stance on whether or not players should be allowed to use pot.
Will marijuana make the cut?
They started testing players in the 1980s, but marijuana didn’t get added to the NBA drug test until 1999. The media got wind of players’ complaints that many teammates were showing up for practice—even games—stoned. The majority of America though differently about pot back then and the owners felt it was important to appease the masses.
They added marijuana to the drug test.
America’s viewpoint on marijuana has shifted though. The fact that legalization continues to spread across the nation proves that point. Team owners, players, and others affiliated with the NBA feel it’s time to remove marijuana from the banned substances list.
We’re talking relief here
In a 2016 interview with NBC Sports reporter, Dan Feldman, former Bulls point guard, Jay Williams, estimated that between 75% and 80% of NBA players used marijuana. He stressed that the majority of them used the drug for medical purposes.
It’s likely that a lot of players continue to use the drug medically. It’s an established fact that cannabis relieves a wide variety of symptoms. Now that recreational use is becoming more widespread, players may be more inclined to add pot to the mix when they take a break and relax now and then too.
The NBA obviously chose to look the other way where recreational drug use is concerned for the shortened season. We’re going to put this pandemic in its place though. The immediate plan for next season includes returning to established drug testing procedures.
Marijuana might be coming off the test panel permanently.
Only one main concern
Things are definitely leaning toward allowing players to use marijuana in states where the drug is legal.
Case in point, NBA Players Union Executive Director, Michele Roberts, voiced support for NBA players using medical marijuana back in 2018. She recently joined the Board of Directors at Cresco Labs, a multi-state marijuana operator.
According to Commissioner Adam Silver, allowing players to consume marijuana raises a concern though. Younger fans who idolize players might take it as a green light to use themselves.
Still… I have a “when” quote rather than an “if” quote to share with you from a Benzinga article back in June.
“When we change our policy we have to be really careful because we’re clearly sending a message to young people,” Silver explained. “Just like with alcohol, you have to teach young people how to use a substance appropriately and responsibly so it doesn’t overwhelm your life.”
I’m wondering if we should expect to see some NBA players starring in some “use responsibly” public service announcements soon.
It seems like a logical way to combat the issue. Besides, if 75% to 80% of players are already using, there won’t be a shortage of volunteers.