NBA Players & Coaches Call for League to Lift Ban on Marijuana
Mary Jane. Pot. Weed. Marijuana. Whatever you call it, cannabis use has been prohibited in the NBA since the league enacted an anti-drug policy in 1983, which has a list of 160 banned substances. According to the current collective bargaining agreement a player that tests positive for marijuana will be required to enter the Marijuana Program, a second offense results in a $25,000 fine and re-entry into the Marijuana Program, a third positive test will result in re-entry in the Marijuana Program and a five-game suspension. Despite this many former and current players, coaches and staff are calling on the league to lift the ban on marijuana use.
When reigning Coach of the Year Steve Kerr admitted to using cannabis twice in the past 18 months to relieve back pain, a dialogue was sparked around the league’s ban on the popular drug. “You can see it with our country, our country is starting to wisen up on the medicinal marijuana side,” Kerr told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Warriors Podcast, “I hope we can wisen up on the prescription drug side. That’s scary stuff and it’s really not talked about often enough.” (NBA/AP) To date Kerr hasn’t been fined or suspended.
Even New York Knicks President Phil Jackson admitted to using cannabis following back surgery on CBS Sports “We Need to Talk.” The executive discussed the role of marijuana in NBA culture and how difficult it is to enforce the anti-weed ban, “We have tried to stop [marijuana use] in the NBA. I don’t think we have been able to stop it. I think it still goes on and is still part of the culture in the NBA. It is something we either have to accommodate or figure out another way to deal with it.” Like Kerr, Jackson hasn’t been reprimanded for his use of marijuana either.
Even former star players Chauncey Billups and John Salley admitted to not only using the drug but contend that cannabis improved their play and that of their teammates.
And fans following the latest “scandal” to hit the league are hopeful that commissioner Adam Silver will lift an unenforceable ban that clearly is more prohibitive than it is preventive. @MrAChen tweeted “@1MrBigShot [Chauncey Billups] Now that Kerr and Phil have discussed marijuana, the #NBA will be more open to the idea of legalizing it” and @shegotgame tweeted “Just lift the ban on weed already, NBA. BE COOL ADAM SILVER”
Where Do We Go from Here?
Well, don’t expect players to be toking in the locker rooms just yet, it’s an arduous task to amend the league’s anti-drug policy, which it clearly enforces on a case-by-case basis . Adam Silver has been a progressive leader and will likely tackle this latest public relations eruption in the New Year. 23 states including Washington, D.C. now have some sort of laws on the books legalizing marijuana; with the league operating in major markets that have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use they would be hard pressed to maintain such a stringent ban on the drug.