NBA officials and the National Basketball Players Association reached a new tentative labor agreement over the weekend that no longer penalizes athletes for using marijuana and removes the substance from the league’s drug testing program.
Both parties reached the new seven-year Collective Bargaining Agreement early Saturday morning, which still needs players and team governors to ratify the deal before becoming official.
Sources: NBA players will no longer be prohibited for marijuana under the new seven-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. It's been removed from the anti-drug testing program, a process that began during 2019-20 season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 1, 2023
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced in late 2021 that the league would stop randomly drug-testing players for cannabis after reportedly pulling back on regulating use during the pandemic.
“We decided that, given all the things that were happening in society, given all the pressures and stress that players were under, we didn’t need to act as Big Brother right now,” Silver said, according to Yahoo. “I think society’s views around marijuana have changed to a certain extent.”
Aside from changing its position on marijuana use, The Athletic details other negotiations in the tentative agreement, which include allowing NBA players to promote and/or invest in betting and cannabis companies, sign non-gambling endorsement deals with sports betting companies and invest in teams in NBA and WNBA teams via an NBPA-selected private equity firm — among other terms.
According to the outlet, the reversal would go into effect this summer through the 2029–30 season if both parties do not opt out by the end of the 2028–29 season.
Tamika Tremaglio, executive director of the players association, said in a tweet more details would become available once officials finalize a term sheet.
“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!” Tremaglio said.
Phoenix Suns star player Kevin Durant has advocated for medicinal marijuana use for athletes and has entered a multi-year deal with Weedmaps, an online weed marketplace, to destigmatize the plant, according to Yahoo.
“The Band-Aid has been ripped off in the sports world,” Durant said. “It’s kind of an undercover thing that players use cannabis and use it throughout when they’re actively playing.”
Former NBA players, including Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Allen Iverson, have also been open about their cannabis use, according to Insider.
NBC Sports reported the National Football League reduced potential penalties for marijuana three years ago in a similar deal but did not completely exclude testing for the substance as more states started to legalize cannabis for recreational use — creating a conflict between the league and the law.
In January 2021, officials in the Ultimate Fighting Championship dropped penalties for fighters who tested positive for marijuana.
“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 to The Athletic.