NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Is Warming Up to Medical Marijuana Use in Professional Basketball
Taking hints from Roger Goodell and the NFL, Silver is warming up to cannabis as a medically viable pain reliever.
Published on August 15, 2017

Medical marijuana is legal in over half the country, but for most professional athletes, draconian league rules supersede even the most lenient state regulations. So while Denver Nuggets players can walk less than 10 minutes from the stadium they play at to a state-sponsored dispensary, they can easily face “surprise” drug testing and suspension if the budtender reports the transaction to the media. In the face of increasing cannabis research and more lenient public opinion, though, two of the country’s most popular leagues are finally opening up to the prospect of medical marijuana as a league-approved painkiller. 

Just weeks after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke favorably about partnering with the league’s Players Association to study medical marijuana as a painkiller to replace widely used opiates, NBA head honcho Adam Silver has changed his dismissive tone to a more welcoming, science-first look at medical pot. 

At a basketball camp held in Israel as part of the league’s “Basketball Without Borders” initiative, Silver was asked by Redditor EdHamden about the NFL’s impending research and whether the NBA would move to similarly investigate medical marijuana.

“I would say it’s something we will look at,” Silver responded. ” I’m very interested in the science when it comes to medical marijuana. My personal view is that it should be regulated in the same way that other medications are if the plan is to use it for pain management. And it’s something that needs to be discussed with our Players Association, but to the extent that science demonstrates that there are effective uses for medical reasons, we’ll be open to it. Hopefully there’s not as much pain involved in our sport as some others, so there’s not as much need for it.”

Silver’s semi-support for medical marijuana isn’t revolutionary, but compared to his other recent comments about weed in the league, it represents a step in the right direction. Earlier this summer, Silver sat down with Portland Trail Blazers’ guard C.J. McCollum and sang an entirely different, preposterous tune about the same subject.

“I don’t see the need for any changes right now,” Silver told McCollum. “I mean, it’s legal in certain states. But as you know, our players are constantly traveling, and it might be a bit of a trap to say we’re going to legalize it in these states, but no, it’s illegal in other states. And then players get in a position where they’re traveling with marijuana, and we’re obviously getting into trouble.”

Unlike the NFL, Silver and the rest of the league’s front office have not made any concrete moves to start researching medical marijuana, but it’s at least good to know that the NBA’s head honcho has given up making absurd claims about protecting the league’s players by denying them access to medical marijuana.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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