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The NBA Stops Testing Players For Marijuana

The NBA has recently declared that it won’t be testing its players for cannabis for the completion of the up-and-coming season, as per a memo released by the association. Mike Bass, the NBA spokesperson, announced on October 6 that cannabis testing players won’t occur for the rest of the association’s 75th season, which starts on October 19 and runs through May 2022. Bass said, “We have agreed with the NBPA to extend the suspension of random testing for marijuana for the 2021-2022 season and focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse.” 


As reported by ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, who was the first to obtain the memo, shared on Twitter, “Players won’t be subject to random tests for marijuana this season,” according to @NBPA memo shared with players and obtained by ESPN. That’s been adjusted policy through Orlando restart and the 2020-’21 season. Testing continues for drugs of abuse and performance-enhancing drugs.” The NBA had already announced that it would stop random drug tests for marijuana back in March 2020, when the pandemic was escalating. According to the Associated Press, testing resumed later in summer 2020 at the Orlando Bubble to check for performance-enhancing drugs and drugs of abuse–however cannabis was not one of those substances on the list for testing, primarily as an effort to reduce unnecessary contact with players. 


While there are many reasons as to why marijuana is no longer getting tested in the NBA, one of the main reasons is because of athletes speaking out in favor of cannabis and its medicinal effects. Many players have used their voice to speak out, from former NBA stars like Chris Webber to Kevin Durant. Chris Webber’s cannabis cultivation company, Players Only Holdings, broke ground on Detroit’s $50 million production and training facility.  


Kevin Durant’s company, Thirty-Five Ventures, partnered with Weedmaps to combat the stigma against marijuana. The news of superstar runner Sha’Carri Richardson’s disqualification in the Tokyo Olympics due to a positive cannabis test sparked outrage across the nation. The uproar sparked support from the likes of the White House and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, in addition to U.S. state legislators. 

Other sports organizations have begun to loosen restrictions on cannabis consumption. In April, the NFL (National Football League) revealed they would no longer test for cannabis during its offseason. In December 2019, the MLB (Major League Baseball) association also expressed their stoppage of testing for cannabis and would only continue to test players for opioids and cocaine. It’s fantastic to see barriers such as this announcement that shows how far the cannabis culture has come along with marijuana reform.

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