The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) reached an impending deal for 2023 to 2024. According to a statement released by the NBPA, the agreement states that the NBA will no longer test or penalize players for using marijuana. “Specific details will be made available once a term sheet is finalized,” the NBPA said in the statement.
The league and the players’ association have not ratified the agreement. If it is ratified by the team governors and players, marijuana would be removed from the NBA’s drug testing program. However, it would continue its suspension of marijuana testing for this season.
“Protect our players, enrich their lives on and off the court.”
“Since day one, the goal of the NBPA in this negotiation was to protect our players, enrich their lives on and off the court, and establish a framework that recognizes our players as true partners with the governors in both the NBA and the business world at large!” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in a tweet in response to the pending agreement.
In late 2021, the NBA announced during the pandemic that it would no longer randomly test players for marijuana use after suspending testing in March 2020. They continue to test for human growth hormones and performance-enhancers, along with what the league calls “drugs of abuse” such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and opiates.
Some athletes such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Allen Iverson have opened up about their use of marijuana and expressed support for the legalization of it. Abdul-Jabbar said in his 1983 autobiography Giant Steps, that he’s smoked marijuana. “I’ve certainly smoked more than my quota of weed. For a while there at UCLA I didn’t want to hang out with anyone who didn’t smoke reefer, but that was as parochial a view of the world as any uptight antidoper’s, and I got over it quickly,” he wrote.
85% of NBA players smoke or “use some type of cannabis.”
Allen Iverson told GQ that 85% of NBA players smoke or “use some type of cannabis.” He also mentioned that he did it infrequently during his NBA career. According to The Athletic, other sports leagues may follow similar moves. Meanwhile, other sports leagues, like the NFL and the UFC, have eased up on marijuana use restrictions and testing protocols.
The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement for the 2020-2021 season changed the league’s policy on marijuana. This change allowed players to use the drug during the offseason but still restricted use during the game season.
The UFC announced in 2021 that fighters who test positive for marijuana will not be punished. “The bottom line is that in regard to marijuana, we care about what an athlete consumed the day of a fight, not days or weeks before a fight, which has often been the case,” UFC Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky said in a statement.
The MLB removed marijuana from its banned substances list in the 2019 offseason, allowing players to use the drug in their off time. However, players can still be punished for marijuana use if they appear under the influence during games, practice, meetings, workouts, or any other circumstances during “the scope of their employment.”
The Olympics follows the World Anti-Doping Agency’s drug use policy, which bans marijuana use during competition season but not during the offseason.