NBA’s New Rules for Cannabis Brings Opportunities

nba cannabis laws change


The National Basketball Association (NBA) is making a major shift in its policies regarding cannabis consumption. The new agreement between the NBA and its players’ union is set to remove cannabis from the league’s list of banned substances. This decision comes after years of discussion and debate among players, fans, and officials.

The former policy laid out by the NBA included mandatory treatment and counseling after their first violation, a substantial fine of $25,000 after a second violation, and a five game suspension without pay after the third. A pretty hefty consequence for mere cannabis consumption.

Players Suspended for Cannabis Consumption

Players that were previously suspended for cannabis offenses include Dion Waiters, Malik Beasley, Al Jefferson, J.J. Hickmon, J.R. Smith, Larry Sanders, Arnett Moultrie, Terrel Harris and more. Most of the players had a five game suspension without pay for various reasons including testing positive for cannabis to experiencing an edible-induced panic attack. Despite mounting evidence that cannabis has strong potential to help athletes recover, stave off chronic pain, inflammation, and anxiety associated with rigorous training, it took years for professional athletic leagues to catch on.

The NBA’s Changing Policies on Cannabis

This change in policy is a significant step forward for the NBA, and it could have a significant impact on athletes both on and off the court. In terms of cannabis and exercise, cannabis has been shown to have various potential benefits for athletes, including pain relief, reducing inflammation, and improving sleep quality. It’s widely understood that many professional players have already begun to incorporate cannabis into their wellness routines, and the new policy could make it easier for them to do so without fear of repercussions.

The potential benefits of cannabis consumption for athletes have also caught the attention of the cannabis industry. As more leagues and teams relax their restrictions on cannabis, a new market is emerging for athletes looking to invest in and promote cannabis-related businesses. In fact, some former NBA players have already begun to explore opportunities to invest in cannabis companies and to promote cannabis products through sponsorships and endorsements.

As Forbes reports, the NBA’s new rules regarding cannabis consumption could put the league ahead of other major sports leagues in terms of its approach to cannabis use. While the NFL and MLB have also made changes to their cannabis policies in recent years, the NBA’s decision to completely remove cannabis from its list of banned substances is a significant move, or “slam dunk” (pun intended).

After multiple former NBA players such as J.R. Smith and Al Harrington publicly came out in support of cannabis legalization, with Harrington even lobbying for legalization and noting that it is likely “85% of players” smoke or use cannabis in some way.

The change in policy began in 2021 when the league decided it would no longer randomly drug test its players as part of their COVID-19 policies. The NBA suspended testing in March 2020 to commence testing for performance enhancers that following summer, but cannabis was not on that list and remained off the list the following year.

New Rules Mean New Opportunities

The new rules outlined this year could also have wider implications for the future of sports and cannabis. As Bleacher Report notes, the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) includes provisions allowing players to invest in teams and to participate in sports betting and cannabis-related businesses. This could pave the way for a new generation of athlete-entrepreneurs who are able to use their platform and influence to shape the emerging cannabis industry.

Now that the league has formally decided to change its policies on cannabis, there are endless opportunities for athletes to step into the cannabis industry, whether through sponsorships, developing their own brands, or as investors. Is it possible that Massachusetts may see some cannabis involvement from our own Boston Celtics? Only time will tell.

In conclusion, the NBA’s decision to remove cannabis from its list of banned substances is a significant step forward for the league and for athletes who have long advocated for more progressive policies regarding cannabis consumption. The new rules will not only allow players to incorporate cannabis into their wellness routines, but also create new opportunities for athletes to invest in and promote cannabis-related businesses. As the cannabis industry continues to grow and evolve, the NBA and its players are poised to play a significant role in shaping its future. 

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