Brooklyn Nets player Kevin Durant is angling to destigmatize cannabis – both in the sports world and globally – via a new partnership with online cannabis marketplace, Weedmaps. Durant, a very well-known NBA star, told ESPN that he plans to use his platform, Boardroom, to release a series of podcasts and videos that “address the stigmas around cannabis that still exist in the sports world,” calling it “far past time.” While Durant has previously invested in cannabis businesses and been an advocate for reform, this is the farthest any major athlete with his level of notoriety has ever delved into the evolving cannabis industry in this way.
Marijuana usage among NBA players (which is still technically banned) is a long-debated topic that numerous players have gotten into hot water for over the years, although, according to ESPN, disciplinary actions slowed during the pandemic. Now, the subject is in a sort of gray area as a shift in how the public and those who create laws and even sports regulations shift their mindsets on cannabis in general. Former NBA player and marijuana advocate, Matt Barnes, told ESPN that “it takes a superstar like KD to embrace this and help others not be afraid to discuss the benefits,” touching on the hush-hush culture that has (and still does in many cases) shroud the cannabis community both in and out of the sports sphere. “In part because of the sensitivity of the issue, forging the deal was a drawn-out process,” wrote ESPN.
Apparently, negotiations between Durant and Weedmaps have been going on for the past six months. As of yesterday, though, the partnership was announced by Durant on the “Boardroom: Out of Office” podcast where he said “The Band-Aid has been ripped off.” Now that he’s taken the leap, Durant shares Barnes’ hopes that this will open the door for others in the sports industry to join him in discussing and reforming cannabis usage in the NBA, other sports leagues, and around the world. While Barnes noted that conversations on the topic have sprung up in league meetings for years, he also said that was “a big step” toward a brighter future for everyone.