Tom Thibodeau’s reaction regarding Karl-Anthony Towns advocating for medicinal marijuana use within the NBA: “Karl, he’s got a lot of different interests. And I think it says a lot about who he is as a person. I saw [the story] briefly this morning and just knowing Karl, he’s a thoughtful guy. I don’t know how much he’s studied the research, but in terms of helping people and people that are suffering, I know that that’s the type of person he is. He’s a very open-minded person, he’s got great curiosity in a lot of different things, very thoughtful. So it was his opinion, it was honest and I don’t have a problem with it.”
He swears that this came to him later in life, when he’d tried everything else. “And I’m not lying; I was one of those guys who grew up thinking if you smoked weed you had no future,” Al Harrington says. “I never tried it as a kid. My boys were smoking when we were kids and I never tried it. I was always so scared to try it. I felt like if I came home and I smelled like weed, my mother would kill me.”
Harrington then thought about trying medical marijuana. And, fortunately, he lived in a state that was one of the first to legalize use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. “I didn’t have to do much research because I was in Denver when everything started to go legal,” Harrington said. “I’m one of those guys that reads the paper the next day to see what they said about the team. And it was always in the paper, every single day. So I was always reading up on it, reading up on it.”
And after he retired in 2014 (he did play in Ice Cube’s Big3 league this past summer), Harrington has gone into cannabis full-time, leading to the development of marijuana businesses in three states and a dream of being a major mogul in the still-burgeoning racket of legalized medical marijuana. His company is called Viola Extracts — Viola is Harrington’s grandmother, and, as he describes it, his “guinea pig” in the struggle. When Viola Harrington’s glaucoma was eased by using medical marijuana a couple of years ago, Al Harrington became a true believer. Now Viola Extracts is a one-stop grower, distributing and selling to more than 30 legal marijuana stores around the country.
Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy stopped short of agreeing with Stern. But with attitudes changing in regards to marijuana, Van Gundy admitted the NBA faces a complex issue with tough answers. “I think the NBA is going to be in a tough spot down the road – not just medical – but as more states legalize marijuana even for recreational use,” Van Gundy said after Friday’s practice at the Galen Center on the USC campus.
Stan Van Gundy: “That doesn’t mean you have to allow it. There’s still some businesses who test for it, but you let people be impaired by alcohol because it’s legal, how are you going to draw that distinction with marijuana in states that it’s legal? To me, that’s a tough one.”