NBA plans to continue not testing for marijuana during 2020-21 season
League sources: Continuing a theme from the Orlando bubble, the NBA will not test its players for marijuana for the upcoming 2020-21 season.
— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) December 3, 2020
In March, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) reached an agreement to halt drug testing during the hiatus.
The agreement was only temporary at the time, as the league was looking to limit both close-contact situations and help mitigate stress levels during the extended quarantine and high-stress bubble experience.
In June, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the NBA and NBPA had agreed to terms on testing for performance-enhancing drugs in the bubble, but opted to suspend recreational drug tests for the players in Disney World.
The NBA has considered permanently stopping recreational marijuana testing for its players, but Commissioner Adam Silver has expressed concern about the message that lax marijuana policies could have on kids and athletic performance.
Here’s what Silver told Haynes in May 2019 about the marijuana issue:
“When I’ve talked to players about it, they have mixed feelings…If they want to smoke pot in the summer, whatever…No issue. I do think there’s a little bit of concern about some of the pot smoking in-season. It’s a team sport …
“One of the things I’ve been talking more about in the last year is mental wellness of our players. And look, some guys are smoking pot just in the same way a guy would take a drink…No big deal. On the other hand, there’s also guys in the league who are smoking a lot of pot…And that’s where mental wellness comes in. Because I’ve also talked directly to players who say, ‘I’m smoking a lot of pot, because I have a lot of anxiety. And I’m struggling.’
“Clearly to the extent it has medicinal qualities, those are things that we should be looking at. Where it’s in terms of pain relief, of course.”
Marijuana—recreational and medical—is becoming increasingly legalized nationwide. In February, NBC’s Tom Haberstroh estimated through reporting that a vast majority of NBA players consume marijuana or CBD products.
Something to monitor going forward as the NBA continues to prioritize mental health.