According to reports, the National Basketball Association (NBA) will no longer implement drug testing for marijuana as it removes this substance from the list of banned items. This is part of a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement made by the NBA.
It was revealed on Saturday that the NBA has made its decision official, as it had been unofficially adopted by the league since 2018. This move was initially reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver signaled in late 2020 that the policy could eventually become permanent after the league initially suspended cannabis testing when players competed in a quarantined “bubble” in Orlando at the start of the coronavirus pandemic earlier that year.
The NBA’s decision to lift the ban on cannabis is a major step as, up until now, marijuana had been forbidden, officially (although testing had been relaxed for five years).
Will the decision spark a shift in the league’s perception? And will the NFL be next?
Silver’s statement reflects the growing acceptance of more relaxed drug policies in professional sports, thereby creating better chances for athletes to use cannabis medically or recreationally and enabling them to take advantage of its potential benefits.
“We decided that, given all the things that were happening in society, given all the pressures and stress that players were under, that we didn’t need to act as Big Brother right now,” he said at the time.
“I think society’s views around marijuana has changed to a certain extent.”
However, Silver hinted that abusers wouldn’t get a free pass, insisting the league would reach out to players who showed signs of problematic use, but not those who are “using marijuana casually.”
In 2021, Weedmaps and NBA mega-star Kevin Durant formed a mutually beneficial alliance aimed to reduce the stigma attached to cannabis and demonstrate its potential benefits in terms of an athlete’s fitness and recovery. Also, the MLB took a similar step by signing a Cannabidiol (CBD) firm as the official sponsor for the sport. This partnership will be showcased at this year’s World Series and will promote the business’s reach.
The NBA’s recent stance on cannabis testing has caused a stir as the ongoing debate about cannabis policies for athletes continues to attract media attention, most notably when U.S. runner Sha’Carri Richardson was banned from participating in the Olympics due to a positive THC result.
Despite a comprehensive scientific assessment, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) concluded last year that marijuana would remain on the list of banned substances for athletes in international competitions, insisting its use disrupts the integrity of sports.
The World Boxing Council (WBC) and UFC, international, professional fight organizations, have recently declared that they would no longer dish out punishment for fighters who test positive for marijuana, and those moves have been met with widespread approval.