Former NBA commissioner David Stern appears to have changed his stance on the subject of marijuana, believing that the substance should be removed from the league’s ban list. During an appearance on a documentary by ex-NBA player Al Harrington, Stern discussed the benefits of NBA players using medical marijuana and the changing perception of the drug.
“I think it’s universal agreement that marijuana for medical purposes should be completely legal. I think we’ve got to change the NBA’s Collective Bargaining agreement and let you do what’s legal in your state.”
During his tenure as NBA commissioner from 1984 to 2014, Stern handed out many suspensions as the league became stricter due to an increase of marijuana use. Since leaving his post, the negative stigma surrounding the drug has significantly decreased, but not enough to be taken off the banned substances list. Through personal research and players’ experiences, Stern was convinced that many athletes, including Al Harrington, had greatly benefited from treating some health problems with cannabis.
Adam Silver, who replaced Stern as NBA commissioner in 2014, has previously revealed his interest in the science behind medical marijuana, as well as his willingness to adjust to the times. But he also noted that many question marks make it unlikely for the NBA to change its stance at this moment.
The league responded to David Stern’s s comments with a statement from executive vice president of communications Mike Bass.
“While Commissioner Silver has said that we are interested in better understanding the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana, our position remains unchanged regarding the use by current NBA players of marijuana for recreational purposes.”
As of today, players are required to complete a substance abuse program upon a violation of the NBA anti-drug policy, while the second offense results in a $25,000 fine, and the third leads to a five-game suspension. From there, it increases by five more games. This past June, the NBA handed two suspensions to Monta Ellis and Reggie Bullock for third violations after testing positive for marijuana.
In the past few years, several former NBA players have voiced their support for marijuana use, including former Chicago Bulls player Jay Williams, who claimed that 75 to 80 percent of NBA players use the drug, and called on the league to be more progressive. Chauncey Billups is another name who encouraged the league to review its stance, noting that many of his former teammates benefited from the use of marijuana as it helped them focus on the game.
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr also shares the same opinion as David Stern, favoring the use of marijuana over pain pills. Last year, Kerr made headlines when he admitted to using the drug to treat his chronic pain.
Steve Kerr's complete comments tonight regarding his use of medicinal marijuana and how leagues should approach the issue of pain relief. pic.twitter.com/8ScmB3zZGO
— Erik Malinowski (@erikmal) December 4, 2016
[Featured Image by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]