NBA reverses marijuana ban, ending random player testing for the drug

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The NBA has rolled back its ban on marijuana per the league and the National Basketball Players Association’s new collective bargaining agreement. The seven-year deal that was reached early Saturday (April 1) also lifts testing for the substance.

The Athletic reporter Shams Charania was the first to report the news around 3:30 a.m. He tweeted, “Sources: NBA players will no longer be prohibited from using marijuana under the new seven-year collective bargaining agreement. It’s been removed from the anti-drug testing program, a process that began during the 2019-20 season.” The lifted ban goes into effect this summer and will last through the 2029–30 season if neither side opts out by the end of the 2028–29 season.

During pandemic isolation in 2020, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver eased back on enforcing the policy. “We decided that, given all the things that were happening in society, given all the pressures and stress that players were under, we didn’t need to act as Big Brother right now,” said Silver. “I think society’s views around marijuana have changed to a certain extent.” The finalized agreement is forthcoming, pending “ratification by players and team governors.” The NBA Communications team said, “specific details will be made available once a term sheet is finalized.”

Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant is among the athletes who have advocated for marijuana’s medicinal purposes. In 2021, he entered a multi-year partnership with Weedmaps, an online weed marketplace, to destigmatize the plant. “The Band-Aid has been ripped off in the sports world… It’s kind of an undercover thing that players use cannabis and use it throughout when they’re actively playing,” said Durant.

The legalization of cannabis has become a popular debate as more states have decriminalized its recreational use. To date, 21 states, including California, Arizona, New York, Washington, and Michigan, have all passed legislation that lays out the maximum amount of marijuana a person can be in possession of without being prosecuted.

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