Marijuana and the NBA


A little over a year since former NBA player Jay Williams was quoted saying “80% of NBA players use marijuana,” it was reported that the Cavs locker room smelled of weed after their game 2 loss in the NBA finals. With the smell and talk of marijuana starting to ramp up, NBALEAD thought it best to take a dive into the NBA and their relationship with the drug.

Now before we move on it is important to note that marijuana is not a drug that is tested for in the NBA. The substance abuse policy of the CBA lists amphetamines and its analogs, cocaine, LSD, opiates (heroin, codeine, and morphine), and PCP as drugs that can get you suspended or banned (with possible reinstatement in two years). In a 2014 interview with GQ, the commissioner Adam Silver was quoted saying:

We’re much more concerned about HGH testing and designer performance-enhancing drugs. This is a policy matter, and it’s our strong preference that our players do not consume marijuana. We believe it will affect their performance on the court. That said, marijuana testing is something that’s collectively bargained with the players’ association, and we adjust to the times.”

Looking back now this doesn’t seem to be that surprising as Silver has shown he is trying to keep the league progressing, for example, his opinion on gambling and the NBA. So as you can see the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room smelt like weed doesn’t hurt them from a league standpoint and I imagine that most players participating have their medical marijuana cards, which is legal in the state of California.

However, there was a player in league history that has been negatively affected from smoking weed; Larry Sanders in 2015. It was officially listed as a 10 game suspension for the use of marijuana, however, this came on the heels of a bar fight and locker room issues. The Milwaukee Bucks quickly bought out his contract before he stepped back out on their court. Other than Sanders there has not been any other player to be suspended or banned for strictly marijuana use.

It may be time for other leagues to understand the tides are turning and follow suit. In 2016 alone the NFL had 26 suspensions for players breaking the substance abuse policy which includes marijuana. Whereas the NBA only had three players suspended or banned for breaking their substance policy.

About Andrew Jakubicz

Andrew Jakubicz is a CPA who loves the Bucks. Andrew graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Master and Bachelors Degree in Accounting and currently resides in downtown Milwaukee.

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