NBA Players Can Now Promote Weed Products and Invest in Licensed Pot Businesses
The heady result of long-fought collective bargaining.
Published on April 5, 2023

NBA fan stoners are having a red letter week with the details slowly emerging about the players’ new seven-year collective bargaining agreement. The latest bomb to drop is that the pro ballers will be able to promote cannabis brands, reported MJBizDaily.

On Saturday, NBA correspondent Shams Charania tweeted, “Game changer: The league's new collective bargaining agreement will give players the ability to invest in NBA and WNBA teams, as well as promote and/or invest in sports betting and cannabis companies.”

Do note that the agreement has yet to be ratified by the players’ union and team governors.

“Specific details will be made available once a term sheet is finalized,” the National Basketball Players Association said in a statement.

Of course, the league’s heretofore ban on players making money from selling weed has been roundly ignored by several of its on-court luminaries. Phoenix Suns small forward Kevin Durant joined the advisory board of an investment firm associated with Canada’s Canopy Growth way back in 2019 (after years of rumors involving a Suns locker room rife with reefer smoke). In 2020, he linked with MERRY JANE co-founder Snoop Dogg in the funding of a weed startup. These days, he’s working with WeedMaps on a de-stigmatization campaign and telling David Letterman about the magic of marijuana.

Durant is far from alone in his pro-grade promotion, however. Benzinga cites Viola Cannabis founder Al Harrington, Chris Webber, and Jason Wild as other examples of above-the-rim weed entrepreneurs.

This cannabis promotion news comes on the tail of perhaps an even more exciting development. Earlier in that same Saturday, Charania posted on Twitter that “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.”

The league has been experimenting with what it called a temporary ban on randomly testing players for cannabis for the last three years—but it’s the last major US sports organization to permanently revise its weed consumption policy.

Look for an avalanche of player endorsements now that the famously-smoky league has loosened restrictions on their green capitalism opportunities. That being said, we all know that not all celebrities should be starting their own weed brand.

But this NBA news goes well beyond whether we really need “Lebron loud.” For decades, professional athletes have been plagued by prohibitionist league policies when it comes to cannabis consumption. For many, fines and suspensions have resulted in a serious loss of revenues. So if there’s an avenue by which sport stars can now profit from the same drug they’ve been persecuted over—well, we’re for it.

The NBA, mind you, is not the first pro sports league to let its players dip their toes into ganja promotion. Major League Baseball announced its first partnership with a CBD company last October. The organization announced prior to that in June that individual players had the proverbial green light to accept CBD sponsorships, as long as they were approved by the league commissioner.  

Follow Caitlin on Instagram, and catch her Spanish-language podcast Crónica on Spotify and Mixcloud.

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Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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