Report: NBA to continue policy of not testing players for marijuana
We all see which way this issue is trending, right?
While marijuana is still on its banned substance list, the NBA and players union agree to terms that would not text players in the Orlando restart bubble for pot. That is going to carry over to this season, reports Ben Dowsett.
League sources: Continuing a theme from the Orlando bubble, the NBA will not test its players for marijuana for the upcoming 2020-21 season.— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) December 3, 2020
Sources say this decision is largely based on COVID safety - just another way of limiting unnecessary contacts.— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) December 3, 2020
However, there's also significant expectation from many in the league that the entire marijuana testing program is on the way out in the near future.
Marijuana legalization is becoming more common nationwide. Recreational use is fully legal in 15 states plus the District of Columbia, and many other states have various levels of decriminalization or medical use allowances. With younger generations leaning much more heavily toward legalization, this trend is likely to continue across the nation.
The NBA has loosened its marijuana policies — a player has to test positive three times to earn a suspension — but Adam Silver said a year ago his concern was addiction, mental wellness, and in-season use (speaking with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports).
“But when I’ve talked to players about it, I think they have mixed feelings, some players. I think it’s not as much about what guys do in the summer. If they want to smoke pot in the summer, whatever. It’s legal in a lot of states, to your point. No issue. I do think there’s a little bit of concern about some of the pot smoking in-season. I think it’s a team sport, and I think part of the reason we have the rules in place, there was a time not so long ago when there were a group of players who felt – because, ultimately, the players association has to agree on any testing – that maybe there was too much pot being smoked in-season...
“On the other hand, there’s also guys in the league who are smoking a lot of pot. And then the question is, why are you smoking a lot of pot? And that’s where mental wellness comes in. Because I’ve also talked directly to players who say, “I’m smoking a lot of pot, because I have a lot of anxiety. And I’m struggling...
“Last part of this, I think when we change our policy, we have to be very careful, because clearly we’re going to be sending a message to a lot of young people. And at the end of the day, I think we all agree that, whether or not marijuana is a legal substance, just like with alcohol, you still have to teach young people how to use a substance like that appropriately and responsibly and so it doesn’t overwhelm your life. So, it’s a complicated issue.”
Nothing worth doing is ever simple, and there are legitimate questions the league needs to discuss and find answers to. If a player uses pot as a crutch, the same way they might have used alcohol in a previous generation, that player still needs help with his mental wellbeing.
Still, we can all see which way this issue is trending, right?