In an interview with former NBA player Al-Harrington, ex-NBA Commissioner David Stern said that the sporting world should embrace medical marijuana and that he believes it should be removed from the NBA’s list of banned substances.
“I’m now at the point where, personally, I think [cannabis] probably should be removed from the ban list,” Stern said while appearing on the digital sports program Uninterrupted. “I think there is universal agreement that marijuana for medical purposes should be completely legal.”
A Changing Landscape
Stern, now 75, was the NBA’s commissioner from 1984-2012 and was highly opposed to marijuana during his reign. He spearheaded a policy that took a tougher stance on drugs, and ironically enough, cannabis was at the forefront of the drugs he opposed.
Stern explained players were oftentimes showing up to games high, so he had to “tighten it up.”
Now, however, Stern has changed his tune.
“It’s a completely different perception,” Stern told Harrington. “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.”
Stern admitted that back when he was commissioner, cannabis had a far more sinister rap than it does today.
“People accepted the generally-held wisdom that marijuana was a gateway drug,” Stern said.
Al Harrington: A Cannabis Connoisseur
Harrington, who produced the documentary, played in the NBA for 16 years for the Pacers, Hawks, Warriors, Knicks, Nuggets, Magic and Wizards. The former power forward is now heavily invested in the cannabis industry and has invested more than $3 million in his own weed business.
Harrington says he began using medical marijuana as a result of a botched knee surgery he underwent while he was a member of the Denver Nuggets.
He went on to say that he believes “over 70 percent” of professional athletes—not exclusively NBA players—smoke cannabis regularly. This echoes the sentiment of another former NBA player Jay Williams, who said in an interview with FoxBusiness that “80 percent of the league” smokes weed.
However, Harrington took it a step further and went as far as to say coaches and front office members indulge in the green stuff from time to time.
“Not only the players, but I think coaches consume, I think the owners consume. I think in sports it’s very prevalent and it’s right there,” Harrington said.
Final Hit: Ex-NBA Commissioner Says Legalize Weed in Sports
While Stern’s words do hold weight in NBA circles, it’s unlikely we will see any immediate change in the league’s drug policy.
Although current NBA commissioner Adam Silver has recently said he’s “open” to legalizing medical marijuana in the league, he’s also gone on record saying that there’s “no need” to change the NBA’s current policy on the plant.
If the NBA did uplift their ban on pot, they would become the first professional sports league to do so. However, with Stern’s ringing endorsement, that notion may not be as far-fetched as we previously thought.