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The NBA Made The Right Move By Dropping Cannabis Prohibition

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In late June, after months of leaks in the media, the National Basketball Association (NBA) officially removed cannabis from its list of prohibited substances. The NBA had refrained from testing players for cannabis going back to 2020, however, with the new collective bargaining agreement signed into effect by both the league and the player’s union, cannabis prohibition in the NBA finally came to an end.

In addition to allowing players to consume cannabis when ‘off the clock,’ players will also be allowed to invest in the cannabis industry directly. It is no secret that active NBA players have already invested in the emerging legal cannabis industry, however, those investments were passive in nature, and players can now tout their investments publicly.

Under the old NBA testing guidelines, players that had more than 15 ng/mL of THC in their bodily fluids were subject to disciplinary action, including suspension from play, although not all players were treated fairly.

NBA players such as Clifford Robinson had league cannabis policies selectively enforced on them in order to ‘make an example out of them,’ presumably to further the league’s prohibition agenda.

While it is an amazing thing that the NBA finally got on the right side of history, I am sure that it’s a bittersweet moment for the players and their families who had to endure the harms of the league’s previous policy.

I was blessed to be friends with Clifford Robinson in the later years of his legendary life, and I saw firsthand the level of stigma that he still had to deal with well after he retired from the NBA, even while living in a state (Oregon) where cannabis was legal for adult use. No one should ever have to deal with such illogical nonsense, including professional athletes.

Fortunately, no other players’ careers will be negatively impacted by NBA cannabis prohibition, and ultimately, that is worthy of celebration. Cannabis is not harmful to athletes, nor is it capable of enhancing an athlete’s performance to such a degree that it warrants being labeled as a ‘performance-enhancing substance.’

Hopefully the NBA sees that the sky above NBA arenas is still intact, and realizes that it should never go back to its previous regressive cannabis policies.