Can NBA Players Smoke Weed?

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While NBA players might be known for their gravity-defying dunks, are they allowed to get high as they jump up and down the court? Does the NBA test for weed today, and are there consequences for testing positive for marijuana?

If you’re wondering about the answers to the questions and more, you’re not alone. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we look at the current policy of the NBA towards weed and its players smoking it. At the end of this article, you’ll find that a lot has changed in the weed policy of the NBA.


Key Takeaways

  • Recent developments between the NBA and the player’s union mean that players can now smoke weed without the fear of any penalty from July 2023.
  • Random testing for cannabis has stopped since 2020, but its use still has some limitations.
  • While players can now smoke weed freely, they will still be subject to cannabis laws in the specific states they’re in.


Can NBA Players Smoke Weed?

According to a recent agreement between the league and the players’ union (National Basketball Players Association), NBA players will be allowed to smoke weed without fear of being penalized. The new agreement has removed marijuana from the list of drugs the league will test for.

Before the agreement, the NBA’s position on weed involved entering players into its counseling and treatment groups after a first violation, payment of a fine of $25,000 after the second violation, and a suspension for five games after the third violation.

However, in 2021, the league stated that it would no longer randomly test players for marijuana again.

Instead, such random tests will be focused on performance-enhancing drugs, growth hormones, and “drug abuse.” In other words, the league will focus more on things like steroids, cocaine, and opiates.


Famous NBA Players Banned (Permanently or Reinstated) for Marijuana

Even though the answer to the question “can NBA players smoke weed?” is yes based on a recent agreement, the fact is that before now, the league had banned players, including famous ones, for marijuana use. Examples of such players are:

O.J. Mayo (Milwaukee Bucks)

In 2016, O.J. Mayo was dismissed and banned from the NBA for a period of two years after breaching the league’s anti-drug policy at the time. Before the disqualification in 2016, O.J. Mayo had served a 10-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs in 2011. Over the course of his career, Mayo averaged 13.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game.

Malik Beasley (Minnesota Timberwolves)

In the 2020-2021 season, Malik Beasley was suspended for 12 games without receiving pay after being arrested for possessing weed and hiding stolen property. When he was arrested, he was a guard with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Over the course of his career, Malik averaged 8.2 points and 1 assist per game.

Larry Sanders (Milwaukee Bucks)

In the 2013-2014 season, Larry Sanders tested positive for marijuana and received a five-game suspension without pay. Even though the suspension was issued in the 2013-2014 season, Larry served it in the 2014-2015 season because he had an injury that kept him from playing at the time.

Despite the ban, Larry is famous for saying he believed in marijuana and its medical benefits, insisting that he had studied it. After this first ban, Larry was banned again for ten games in 2015 after failing another drug test.


Does the NBA Test for Weed?

Since the year 2020, the NBA has announced that it would not randomly test players for marijuana, deciding to focus instead on performance-enhancing drugs.

It is important to note that these policy alterations are coming on the heels of several discussions which are changing the publicized perception of marijuana use and its effect on sports and players.

Generally, the medical side of marijuana is coming to the fore, and the stigma attached to weed is beginning to wane. This has also affected the policies in other sports and leagues like the MLB and the NFL.

For instance, in the MLB, marijuana has been removed from the list of banned substances, although players should not be under its influence during games and professional activities.

In the NFL, players are allowed to use weed during the off-season, though it is still restricted during the season, and the threshold for testing positive moved from 35 nanograms to 150 nanograms.

In conclusion, the answer to the question “does the NBA test for weed?” is no, thanks to the recent agreement with players.


Are NBA Players Allowed to Smoke Weed?

Today, the answer is yes.

This is possible because the league’s policy for the last three seasons is not to randomly test for marijuana in players. This means that players in the NBA can smoke weed without the fears of suspensions and fines that were once slammed on athletes found in possession or found to use marijuana.

Furthermore, going forward in the league, players’ liberty to smoke weed will expand thanks to a new labor agreement between the league and the player association earlier in the year. This new agreement completely removes weed from the list of banned substances in the league.

Note, however, that NBA players must still be careful as cannabis is still illegal in some states. Therefore, smoking or possession of weed in such states may result in legal trouble.


NBA Weed Policy 2023

The NBA and the players’ association came to a tentative agreement in April 2023, which is supposed to last the next seven years. The agreement was ratified in the same month of April and is to take effect on the 1st of July, 2023.

In this new agreement, marijuana is removed from the list of banned substances for athletes. The NBA’s weed policy will change when this agreement comes into effect.

Before now, the previous policy included marijuana and CBD under banned substances, with three positive tests leading to suspension for five games and two positive tests carrying the punishment of a fine.

Note that despite these former provisions, since 2020-2021, the league has stopped randomized tests for marijuana.


Why will the NBA no Longer Penalize Marijuana Use?

The NBA’s decision to no longer penalize marijuana use is like a slam dunk in the realm of progressive thinking. It’s a game-changer that acknowledges the shifting attitudes toward cannabis and embraces a more compassionate approach.

The NBA’s recent decision to stop penalizing marijuana use reflects a growing recognition among experts in sports medicine and player wellness. For instance, some players claim that weed helps recovery from workouts and games.

With a shift towards evidence-based practices, the NBA understands that punishing players for marijuana use lacks scientific justification and can hinder their overall well-being.

This decision aligns with the expert consensus that a more nuanced and health-oriented approach is needed when it comes to managing cannabis use in professional sports.


Final Thoughts

Thanks to the new agreement between the league and players, NBA players are allowed to smoke marijuana. This recent development is not unrelated to the changing public perception of marijuana, especially as more people become aware of its potential medical advantages.

Generally, the NBA’s decision to stop penalizing marijuana use is a reflection of the evolving expert perspectives in sports medicine and player wellness.


Cannabis and the NBA: Frequently Asked Questions

When did Drug Testing Start in the NBA?

Drug testing started in the NBA in 1983 after the media accused NBA players of using drugs to boost performance. As a result, the league conducted random tests on players with punishments for failing.

What Happens if an NBA Player Fails a Drug Test?

When a player fails a drug test and is found to use a prohibited substance, he is subjected to varying punishments depending on whether he is a first-time user and the kind of substance involved.

Some of the punishments that may be stipulated include suspensions, fines, and mandatory participation in treatment and counseling sessions.