With states all across the nation climbing out of the pit of pot prohibition, it should come as no surprise that professional sports leagues are now starting to discuss the possibility of revising their drug policies.
Although the majority of the debate is, so far, focused on how cannabis medicine might be used as an alternative to opioid medications for players in the NFL, it was recently revealed that the arena of professional basketball is, too, giving this treatment option some consideration.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who has not exactly been in support of changing the NBA’s drug policy with respect to marijuana, is apparently loosening his stance on the concept of players using the herb as a substitute to dangerous prescription drugs.
Earlier this week, while attending a Basketball Without Borders camp in Israel, Silver was asked to clarify his position on how the NBA plans to deal with marijuana legalization. His response, which was reported on the league’s Reddit page, indicates some openness with respect to delving into the therapeutic potential of the cannabis plant.
“I would say it’s something we will look at,” Silver said. “I’m very interested in the science when it comes to medical marijuana.
“My personal view is that it should be regulated in the same way that other medications are if the plan is to use it for pain management,” he added. “It’s something that needs to be discussed with our Players Association, but to the extent that science demonstrates that there are effective uses for medical reasons, we’ll be open to it. Hopefully there’s not as much pain involved in our sport as some others, so there’s not as much need for it.”
For now, marijuana is prohibited in the NBA, with players being monitored, to some degree, through as many as six drug tests throughout each 1,230-game season. Unfortunately, due to the league’s ultra-restrictive policy on cannabis, it is relatively easy for a player to fail a drug screen. The NBA’s rules on marijuana use only allow 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. To put this in perspective, Olympic players are permitted to show 150 nanograms before encountering any disciplinary action.
Last month, Silver expressed concerns over the idea of revamping the NBA’s cannabis policy due to the problems that could arise for those players who get stoned on the road.
“I don’t see the need for any changes right now,” he said, according to NBA.com “It’s legal in certain states, but as you know, our players are constantly traveling, and it might be a bit of a trap to say we’re going to legalize it in these states, but no, it’s illegal in other states and have players get in a position where they’re traveling with marijuana and getting in trouble.”
Although it is unlikely that the NBA will move to change its policy on marijuana anytime soon, it does sound like the league is placing more focus these days on the overall health of its players.
On Monday, the league released some revisions to its 2017-2018 season that will give players more time to recuperate. NBA Commissioner Silver said he and his staff have worked to do away with situations where teams are forced to play four games in a five-day period, as well as reduce travel time and the number of back-to-backs played during the season.
The goal of the amended schedule, Silver said, is to put more of an emphasis on player rest and health.
Unfortunately, the new health-driven schedule will not allow players to unwind with weed, at least not this season.