Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA enacted a temporary policy to end cannabis testing among players during the 2020-2021 season. This past week the league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, said the temporary ban may become permanent.
Will the NBA stop testing for cannabis among players?
Silver told NBS’s Today Show, “We decided that, given all the things that were happening in society, given all the pressures and stress that players were under, that we didn’t need to act as Big Brother right now. I think society’s views around marijuana has changed to a certain extent.”
“Due to the unusual circumstances in conjunction with the pandemic, we have agreed with the NBPA to suspend random testing for marijuana for the 2020-21 season and focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse,” a spokesperson for the NBA said.
Instead of randomly testing players for drugs and marijuana, Silver said the NBA would be focused on reaching out to specific players who show signs or problematic dependency, not those who are “using marijuana casually.”
“I recognize that society’s views around marijuana use have changed dramatically since these rules were put in place, and in many ways the suspension of random testing this season is a recognition of that,” he says. “If our players are traveling from jurisdiction to jurisdiction—from jurisdictions that do not have prohibitions to jurisdictions where there’s still criminal penalties for possession and use of marijuana—we want to make sure we’re not creating a trap for our players and putting in place rules that will put them in the crosshairs of the law.”
“It doesn’t mean there isn’t still a concern from the league that marijuana, no different than alcohol, can be abused,” he stated. “It’s something that we want to play close attention to, especially given the incredible stress that our players are often under, and particularly given the stress of playing in a pandemic.”
Do all professional sports test for cannabis use?
If the NBA does decide end cannabis testing among players, they would be joining the likes of other popular sports leagues. Earlier this year, the MLB announced that it would no longer test players for cannabis, but the players are prohibited from being sponsored by cannabis companies. Similarly, the NFL recently made the decision to stop suspensions for positive cannabis tests.