NBA All-Star Kevin Durant says he personally lobbied the league’s commissioner to get marijuana removed from the banned substances list for players—and during one meeting, he said the official caught a whiff of cannabis on him.
At a CNBC and Boardroom “Game Plan” sports business conference on Tuesday, Durant was asked how he managed to “persuade” Commissioner Adam Silver to lift the cannabis ban. He started by noting that “he smelled it when I walked in.”
“I didn’t really have to say much, you know what I’m saying? He kind of understood where this was going,” he said. “I just felt like it was becoming a thing around the country—around the world. The stigma behind it wasn’t as negative as it was before. It doesn’t affect you in any negative way.”
— CNBC Events (@cnbcevents) July 26, 2023
Durant, who teamed up with the online marijuana marketplace Weedmaps on a campaign to destigmatize cannabis, said at the CNBC event that the commissioner “agreed” with him. “It’s the NBA. Everybody does it. It’s like wine at this point.”
NBA and its players union signed the collective bargaining agreement that removed marijuana from the league’s banned substances list for players last month.
The agreement also lays out rules allowing players to invest in and promote cannabis brands—with certain exceptions.
The overall elimination of marijuana from NBA’s banned substances list formally codifies what has been the league’s decision to temporarily suspend cannabis testing for the past three seasons.
Marijuana icon and NBA commentator Snoop Dogg weighed in on the policy change in April, applauding the league for taking steps that would allow players to use cannabis for medical purposes, including as a potential opioid alternative.
Michele Roberts, a onetime head of the National Basketball Players Association who also joined the board of the major cannabis company Cresco Labs in 2020, previously predicted that a formal change to codify the policy could come soon.
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A growing number of sports leagues have taken steps to enact marijuana policy reforms as more states have moved to legalize cannabis.
The New York Media Softball League (NYMSL)—which has teams representing The Wall Street Journal, High Times and BuzzFeed among its ranks—recently became one of the latest athletic organizations to embrace the cannabis industry, launching a new sponsorship deal with a Kentucky-based CBD company.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Royals recently formed a partnership with a cannabis brand to promote education about the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD—the second Major League Baseball (MLB) team to do so after the Chicago Cubs.
MLB itself announced its league-wide partnership with a popular CBD brand last year. Charlotte’s Web Holdings, one of the most recognizable hemp-derived CBD companies in the country, signed the deal with league to become the “Official CBD of MLB.”
The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) committee focused on promoting health and wellness for student athletes has proposed to remove marijuana from the organization’s banned substances list.
Earlier this year, Nevada sports regulators voted to send a proposed regulatory amendment to the governor that would formally protect athletes from being penalized over using or possessing marijuana in compliance with state law.
UFC announced in 2021 that they would no longer be punishing fighters over positive marijuana tests.
The National Football League’s (NFL) drug testing policy changed demonstrably in 2020 as part of a collective bargaining agreement.
NFL and its players union also announced last month that they are jointly awarding another round of funding to support independent research on the therapeutic benefits of CBD as a pain treatment alternative to opioids for players with concussions.