NBA Will Not Loosen its Stance on Marijuana



By John O’Leary

The former NBA commissioner, David Stern, made suggestions that the league should remove marijuana from the NBA’s banned substances list, causing a representative for the league to respond. The representative, NBA executive Vice President of communications, Mike Bass, stated that this is not going to happen and the league has no intentions of loosening its stance on the use of marijuana.

Bass said, “While (current NBA) commissioner (Adam) Silver has said that we are interested in better understanding the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana, our position remains unchanged regarding the use by current NBA players of marijuana for recreational purposes.”


The statement follows the comments made by Stern in a recent interview he gave on the topic. Said interview was included in a documentary published by UNINTERRUPTED. He told form NBA player Al Harrington, “I’m now at a point where, personally I think marijuana probably should be removed from the banned list. I think there is universal agreement that marijuana for medical purposes should be completely legal.”

Stern justified his comments by saying that the increase in the legalization of medical marijuana is what made him change his mind from his original stance on this issue.

“Drugs in sports is a completely different perception. I think we have to change the collective bargaining agreement and let you do what is legal in your state. If marijuana is now in the process of being legalized, I think you should be allowed to do what’s legal in your state.”

Al Harrington has been taking medical marijuana after failed knee surgery and in 2015 he retired from the NBA. He then got into the cannabis business as an entrepreneur. His documentary was produced in a bid to shed more light on the use of medical marijuana in sports.

karl-anthony towns nba draft

Karl-Anthony Towns Agrees – NBA Should Legalize Marijuana

Karl-Anthony Towns has also spoken out in agreement with David Stern. When asked by ESPN if he were commissioner Adam Silver and could make one change to the rules in NBA, what would it be?

Towns said, “I agree with David Stern with marijuana. You don’t have to actually make it “Mary J” or “Half Baked”. You don’t have to do it like that, but you could use the chemical properties in it to make a lot of people better. That’s something that Adam Silver has to do. That’s out of my control, but maybe legalizing marijuana, not fully legal where people are chimneys, but using it as a beneficial factor as an athlete, as a person living daily. I think a lot of times fans forget that sometimes there may be some things that are banned that may not be the greatest for playing basketball, but for everyday living off the court, sometimes those things that are legal could help us.”

ESPN also as Towns if the legalization of marijuana was something that was discussed among players. He said, “Yeah, I think it’s discussed. But I look at it from my experience with it. I’ve never smoked, I’ve never taken a strand. I’ve never taken properties of it, whatever the case may be. But I deal with kids all the time at autistic schools, Reed Academy in New Jersey. My girlfriend has an autistic nephew, and you realize those properties of marijuana can do a lot of good for kids and adults. These guys, just because we’re NBA athletes, we’re not super humans. Some of us have conditions that could use medical marijuana to our benefit for everyday living, just taking care of our kids and our families.”


Legal Use of Medical Marijuana

The use of marijuana is legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. In all of these states people can legally consume and carry marijuana. The use of cannabis for medical purposes is legal in 29 states. Each state has their own possession limit. Patients whose physicians recommend medical marijuana for certain illnesses and chronic conditions are exempt from criminal prosecution in states where marijuana laws have been passed. The medical marijuana laws vary drastically and while some states only allow terminally ill patients to legally use it, others are less restrictive. For general information as well as the laws you can visit the NCSL site.

Stern believes that it is up to the sports leagues to anticipate where the legalization of medical marijuana will lead.

In August 2017, the NFL took a step towards reversing a long-held refusal to acknowledge medical cannabis as a legitimate option for pain management. A letter was sent to the NFL Players Association offering to collaborate on research into the potential use of medical marijuana for rehabilitation.

Allen Sills, a Vanderbilt University neurosurgeon and the NFL’s chief medical officer, told the Washington Post, “I think we have a lot more to learn about it. Certainly, the research about marijuana and really more particularly cannabinoid compounds as they may relate to the treatment of both acute and chronic pain. That is an area of research that we need a lot more information on and we need to further develop.”

The Debate Continues

While Stern is in favor of removing marijuana from the NBA’s list of banned substances, the league itself is not. Stern still holds a lot of clout though having overseen the league from 1984 through to 2014. He is credited with the explosion in popularity of the sport and there may be many who agree with him.

This does come as quite a turnabout though, as Stern himself instituted and enforced harsh policies in relation to marijuana use while he was the NBA commissioner, and he has defended these saying that some of the players we’re high coming to games and there was a need to tighten up on things.

Stern has acknowledged that times have changed and so should the banned list. Will it happen and if so what effect will it have on nba, nfl and nhl betting?

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