NBA Players Will No Longer Undergo Random Cannabis Testing

The NBA Will Keep Lighter Cannabis Regulations in Place In 2021

Historically, American sports leagues have had relatively tough rules in place regarding cannabis use. For example, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA would subject professional basketball players to random drug tests.

Players could be tested up to four times during the season, which runs from October until the spring or summer, and twice during the off-season. If players were expected to be using drugs, the number of tests they were administered could increase.

If a player refused a test or their test came up positive, they would be punished: one violation would land the player in a drug treatment program. A second violation would cost the player $25,000, and further violations would lead to multi-game suspensions. Way harsh.


The Pandemic Changed Everything

The COVID-19 pandemic seemed to hit America abruptly, and it came when NBA was in the middle of its 2019-20 season. Games were temporarily suspended in March 2020, until the summertime, during which all teams were moved to a “bubble” in Orlando to finish the season.

Ultimately, the pandemic made the league rethink its priorities, and they realized that cannabis wasn’t its biggest problem. The league stopped initiating random drug tests on its players for the remainder of the season.

READ MORE: Is The NBA Changing Its Stance On Marijuana?

Now, the NBA has announced that it will keep up the new rules throughout the following year. This means players who fear random tests can rest easy, as long as they don’t give the league any reason to be suspicious, as players could still be tested if they are believed to be using cannabis.


These New Rules Might Outlast The Pandemic – Here’s Why

The pandemic is behind the reasoning for pulling back on drug testing, but fans are speculating that the rules may become permanent.

The head of the National Basketball Players Association, Michelle Roberts, joined the board of a major cannabis company recently. Roberts doesn’t seem to think it’s necessary to punish players who use cannabis, judging by a quote from a GQ interview:

“We’re not going to expose our players to unnecessary risks,” she said, “and it is not necessary to know whether our players are positive for marijuana.”

READ MORE: Kevin Durant Calls For Cannabis To Be Removed From The NBA’s Banned Substance List

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has admitted that he can see a future with looser cannabis rules in the NBA, though he would want them to be unrolled slowly.

“At the end of the day, I think we all agree that, whether or not marijuana is a legal substance, just like with alcohol, you still have to teach young people how to use a substance like that appropriately and responsibly and so it doesn’t overwhelm your life,” he said. “So, it’s a complicated issue.”

Silver has also alluded to wanting to explore the alleged health benefits of cannabis products, like pain relief.

If the league ever fully embraces cannabis, it will be a huge step forward to end the taboo against cannabis use in American culture. Hopefully, players who find solace in using the plant are given space to do so.