On Sunday, The Daily Wire reported the following:
NBA officials and the National Basketball Players Association reached a new tentative labor agreement over the weekend that no longer penalizes athletes for using marijuana and removes the substance from the league’s drug testing program.
Both parties reached the new seven-year Collective Bargaining Agreement early Saturday morning, which still needs players and team governors to ratify the deal before becoming official.
Recreational use of marijuana is legal in twenty-one states, and medical marijuana is legal in many others. To prohibit athletes from using something that may be legal in their home states makes no sense. I disagree with the legalization of recreational marijuana, but banning the use of a substance that is legal in many states makes no sense.
The article notes:
Aside from changing its position on marijuana use, The Athletic details other negotiations in the tentative agreement, which include allowing NBA players to promote and/or invest in betting and cannabis companies, sign non-gambling endorsement deals with sports betting companies and invest in teams in NBA and WNBA teams via an NBPA-selected private equity firm — among other terms.
According to the outlet, the reversal would go into effect this summer through the 2029–30 season if both parties do not opt out by the end of the 2028–29 season.
The article concludes:
“The Band-Aid has been ripped off in the sports world,” Durant said. “It’s kind of an undercover thing that players use cannabis and use it throughout when they’re actively playing.”
Former NBA players, including Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Allen Iverson, have also been open about their cannabis use, according to Insider.
NBC Sports reported the National Football League reduced potential penalties for marijuana three years ago in a similar deal but did not completely exclude testing for the substance as more states started to legalize cannabis for recreational use — creating a conflict between the league and the law.
It will be interesting to see if this decision impacts the quality of play in the NBA. I do suspect that marijuana might be useful in dealing with the kind of pain that professional athletes deal with. Masking that pain might result in better athletic performance, but it also might result in further damage to whatever is causing the pain. Again, it will be interesting to see what impact this decision has on the National Basketball League during the upcoming season.