NBA Lifts Cannabis Testing Policy

August 14, 2023

Historically, sports have included marijuana products among their banned substances, and regular testing has been conducted not only for performance-enhancing drugs, but for cannabis as well.

However, given the recent surge in legalization over the last few years alongside a concerted push for reform by players within the NBA itself, the testing policy has been amended. Other sports have also made changes in recent years, with some (such as the NFL and the MLB) permitting marijuana use during a player’s off time but not during active seasons.

The NBA’s change to its cannabis approach has not been fully ratified yet. Still, for those interested in the sport and players with a passion for the marijuana hobby, the move is good news. Here is an overview of how things are changing and what those changes mean for the sport going forward.

What Was the Former Cannabis Policy?

Previously, the NBA enforced a strict testing policy for a variety of substances, which included cannabis. Players were expected to pass unannounced drug screenings regularly. If the player was found to have cannabis in their system, their first offense would require attending a treatment and counseling program to remediate their approach toward marijuana.

If they were guilty of a second offense, they could face a fine of up to $25,000. The third violation saw players suspended without pay for five games. These approaches to marijuana use significantly impacted numerous players’ incomes and careers. Things began to change with the COVID pandemic.

As drug testing focused on what it deemed to be most important for the sport—performance-enhancing drugs, growth hormones, and easily abused drugs, such as cocaine—the NBA shifted away from marijuana testing. Now, this practice is set to become standard with the elimination of penalties surrounding cannabis use both during the season and in the offseason.

Boston, MA marijuana farm industry

Impacts of Previous Cannabis Use

The NBA’s prospective new cannabis testing policy is good news for players, with some figures alleging that up to 85% of participants enjoy marijuana already. However, those who have fallen victim to the previous policy regulations are still feeling the effects today.

Dion Waiters consumed a THC edible during a flight with his team. As a result, he suffered a brief panic attack. The incident was correlated with his cannabis consumption, and he was suspended without pay for the following ten games in the season.

Other players that have been suspended for at least five games for their cannabis use include Al Jefferson (Charlotte Hornets), J. R. Smith (NY Knicks), J. J. Hickmon (Denver Nuggets), Terrel Harris (Portland Trail Blazers), and Maurice Taylor (Sacramento Kings), among numerous others.

What the New Policy Means

The new policy under consideration by the NBA has not yet been put into place, but it is expected to pass with amendments to the cannabis testing policy, making recent changes permanent. Two main changes are anticipated to be included once the league and players’ association have ratified the document:

  • Testing requirements – Players will no longer be subjected to random drug testing for marijuana, nor will scheduled testing occur. This means that players are free to consume marijuana at any point, whether during the season or in their free time, without needing to pass a screening test. This is a big step for players, who have advocated for an expansion of marijuana use in the NBA to benefit players and reduce costs to the league.
  • Penalties – In addition to dropping the testing requirement for marijuana products, the NBA is expected to ratify a change that removes the penalties for the consumption of cannabis. This is not necessarily baked into the first change on testing requirements; for instance, Maurice Taylor’s 10-game suspension series was, in part, attributed not to testing, but to his admittance that he used marijuana. Under the new cannabis testing policy, players will not be penalized if they admit to using cannabis, if they are found with marijuana, or in other situations that do not involve a standard drug test.

marijuana on green background

Stay Updated on Cannabis News and Enjoy High-Quality Products

The changes made by the NBA are an important step to expand the reach of marijuana and reduce the difficulties that professional sports teams face when their free time overlaps with their jobs. The team at Pure Oasis is proud to play a small part in helping our community stay up to date on what’s happening in the world of cannabis, both through the information we share and the high-quality products we offer. Stop by one of Pure Oasis’ dispensaries to take a look at the new and exciting things we have in store.

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