While some National Basketball Association (NBA) executives, coaches, and players have come out in support of marijuana reform within the league, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has not been as willing to embrace the changing cannabis climate.
In a sit-down interview held before the NBA Draft with Portland Trail Blazers’ guard CJ McCollum for The Player’s Tribune, Silver stated that he doesn’t “see the need for any changes right now” in reference to the league’s policy on marijuana use by players.
McCollum pointed out that while he doesn’t use cannabis himself, he and other players reside in states where it is perfectly legal to do so, either medicinally or recreationally. Silver’s response implied that players may not be able to handle the logistics of being on the road with their medicine, countering that players travel extensively and the inconsistencies in legal protections for marijuana state-to-state could prove to be somewhat of a “trap.”
McCollum and Silver didn’t expand any further on the topic of marijuana use in the league, but it has been a frequent point of contention in the past for the commissioner, who governs a league that falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum in terms of cannabis progressiveness. While the NBA is far less strict about players using the substance than the NFL, the league can’t compete with the NHL, which doesn’t discipline players for utilizing cannabis, or the MLB, which doesn’t submit players to drug testing for recreational substances.
If Silver is concerned that allowing NBA players more freedom in their choice of therapeutic relief will hurt the league’s image with fans, he need not be worried. A recent Yahoo/Marist poll revealed that nearly 70 percent of respondents did not care if professional athletes used medical marijuana to recover from the grind of performing in their respective arenas. Even more surprisingly, a similar number of people are comfortable with their favorite athletes using the plant for recreational purposes as well.