The National Basketball Association (NBA) has declared that it won’t be testing its athletes for marijuana for the entirety of the forthcoming season, as per a memo released by the association. Mike Bass, the NBA spokesperson, revealed on October 6 that marijuana testing among athletes won’t happen for the rest of the organization’s 75th season, which starts on October 19 and goes through May 2022. Bass expressed, “We have agreed with the [National Basketball Player’s Association] (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.”
According to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, who was the first to obtain the memo, 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. As reported by the Associated Press, testing resumed later in summer 2020 at the Orlando Bubble to check for performance-enhancing drugs and drugs of abuse, although marijuana was not one of those substances on the list for testing, primarily as an effort to cut down on unnecessary contact with players.
While there are many reasons as to why cannabis is no longer tested for amongst the NBA, one of the main reasons is because of athletes speaking out in favor of marijuana and its medicinal properties. Innumerable amounts have spoken out, from former NBA stars like Chris Webber to Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin. Chris Webber’s cannabis cultivation company, Players Only Holdings, broke ground on Detroit’s $50 million production and training facility.
NBA player 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 associations have begun to loosen restrictions on marijuana use. In April, the National Football League (NFL) revealed they would no longer test for marijuana during its offseason. In December 2019, the Major League Baseball association also announced their stoppage of testing for marijuana and would only continue to test players for opioids and cocaine. It’s incredible to see barriers such as this announcement that show how far the cannabis culture has come along with marijuana reform, including how professional players are slowly more and more allowed to enjoy rolling up some blunt wraps when they need to take the edge off.