NBA Rumor: Marijuana Use

136 rumors in this storyline

When Kevin Durant and his Thirty Five Ventures invested in the cannabis industry a few years ago, they did so with trepidation, concerned about the negative stereotypes surrounding marijuana. “We thought twice about it,” Durant’s business manager and Thirty Five Ventures and Boardroom co-founder Rich Kleiman said. Now much more comfortable in the space after educating themselves, Durant and Kleiman have partnered with Weedmaps, a multi-faceted cannabis technology and business platform, to help eliminate the stigma and have open conversations about marijuana. As part of the deal, Weedmaps will become an official sponsor of the Boardroom, the multimedia network founded by Durant and Kleiman, and the Boardroom will produce an original content series on marijuana in conjunction with Weedmaps which will host a sports and wellness section on its web site.

More Rumors in this Storyline

The 57 NBA players in consideration to represent Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics, many of them currently playing in the postseason, will be subject to marijuana testing starting May 25. Why is this news? Because since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic — so, the Disney bubble, and then for the entire 2020-21 season — the league has not tested its players for marijuana. Due to the social restrictions to combat COVID-19, which meant a lot of isolation, the NBA chose to basically allow cannabis use. But, according to a memo sent to all the 30 teams on Tuesday, which was obtained by The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Joe Vardon, “each national team player” for Team USA will be subject to World Anti-Doping Agency testing, which includes cannabinoids, narcotics and also performance-enhancing drugs.

While Sanders is doing well as an entrepreneur and businessman, he very much has the desire to return to the NBA — but the league’s policies on marijuana have to change in order for that to happen. “I feel like the stage is kind of being set,” Sanders believes. “The NBA is becoming more open-minded with their marijuana policy. Whether they’re going to test or not. Whether they’ll have guys in the drug program or not. I don’t know if people know how much of a factor that is for me.”

However, multiple violations of the NBA’s drug policy due to marijuana, a night club altercation that resulted in a torn ligament in his right thumb, and a stint on the Bucks’ inactive list due to personal reasons all halted the young star’s rise. The former Bucks forward feels like he was often targeted by the league to be made an example out of for his use of marijuana. “A lot of guys who were in the drug program didn’t get fined, didn’t get suspended,” reveals Sanders. “They didn’t have to go to rehab. Some of the guys never went through the things I went through with the drug program. I was micro-dosed. I used such a small amount. I’m not even sure it was showing up in my drug tests. I was just turning myself in. I was telling on myself out of fear.”

NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has long said NBA cannabis testing should end. And recently she spoke of the backwardness of the ongoing marijuana testing and ban as the cannabis industry is better understood and expands across the country. “The owners and NBA are not so Pollyannaish about marijuana that they would be opposed to the relaxation of the rules,” Roberts said in a phone call with The Athletic. “There’s not sufficient credible evidence that THC use in a marijuana product is any more problematic than alcohol.”

Harrington, 40, put $5 million into the firm to get it started and has seen millions of dollars in additional outside investment help scale up the company. He’s a public advocate for its use to treat mental and physical issues as an alternative to addictive opioids and other drugs. “Cannabis will replace a lot of the pills being used in locker rooms across the world,” Harrington said. “For me, it was something I really believed in and (I wanted to be) one of the people to lead the charge in changing perception around cannabis.”

To Michele Roberts, though, it’s a clear sign of things to come. Far from a one-time event, she’s confident that “in the next CBA, maybe even next season,” the removal of random marijuana testing for NBA players will be permanent. She points to leagues like the NFL and MLB, which have already made similar moves despite having a much less progressive reputation than the NBA. “We’re not going to expose our players to unnecessary risks,” Roberts said, ostensibly referring to COVID precautions. Her follow-up applies to non-pandemic times, though: “And it is not necessary to know whether our players are positive for marijuana.”

Shawn Kemp admits he smoked marijuana during his days as an NBA superstar … and flat out says he has zero regrets, ’cause weed is way SAFER than pain pills. TMZ Sports talked to the 50-year-old former hooper — a 6x All-Star who played in the league from 1989 to 2003 — about weed in the NBA … and the “Reign Man” was honest when we asked if he blazed as a player. “When I played, absolutely we smoked pot back in the day when we played. We was responsible with it but we definitely smoked,” Kemp says.

The Reign Man … is now the Strain Man — because ex-NBA star Shawn Kemp is officially in the marijuana business. The 50-year-old Seattle SuperSonics legend is opening Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis in Seattle on Oct. 30 — a shop poised to become the first Black-owned dispensary in the city. In fact, Kemp’s even hosting former Sonics teammate, Gary Payton, at next week’s grand opening. “I’m looking forward to welcoming Sonics fans on a regular basis, starting with opening day,” Kemp said in a statement. “I hope that Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis will be an inspiration for people to get involved with the legal cannabis industry, especially people of color.”

One of the goals for Reimagining Justice is to deconstruct America’s War on Drugs, and that’s a massive thing. How do we turn that around? Al Harrington: We’re really focused on trying to bring home these people who are sitting in jail, still, for marijuana possession. Obviously, there are people now who’ve made millions and almost billions of dollars from it and, you know, there are still people locked up. And after these people have served their time, they have no opportunities because they have to work around with this blemish on their record where it doesn’t allow them to apply for jobs.

How do you feel about the turn on marijuana in sports, particularly with the NBA? It feels like things are changing around the country but sports is coming slow. Al Harrington: Things are definitely changing. The MLB is no longer testing. The NFL is still testing with no penalty, which is kind of weird. The NBA is kind of the last to the party, but they’re going to not test for cannabis in the bubble with the mental ride that they’re about to go through. Change is happening slowly but surely. When we get the schedule to change and start to do real research on stuff like that, that’s when we’ll be off to the races in regards to opening up cannabis to all of sports.

The NBA’s policy has remained the same — and is now actually the harshest in North American professional sports. A first positive test means a player must enter the marijuana program. The second positive test calls for a $25,000 fine. The third infraction is a five-game suspension, and five more games are added to each ensuing violation (10 games for a fourth positive test, 15 games for a fifth, etc.). However, the NBA does not test players during the offseason, and the union and league agreed to not test players during the league’s coronavirus hiatus.

Al Harrington told me that he used cannabis for pain relief after one of his surgeries late in his career rather than taking opiates. Do you think we’ll see the NBA eventually allow players to use cannabis for pain relief? Jason Richardson: My goal – and I think guys like Al and anybody else who’s involved in the cannabis industry – is not just the NBA, we want to see all sports [allow this]. Especially for football players that go through so much pain. We’re hoping it’s all sports. You need something to help your body recover, to relax, to take away the pain and I think this is the more healthy alternative to taking pills. Hopefully, the NBA will soon do that. I hear that in football, it’s being talked about right now during the negotiations with their Players’ Union and the owners. Major League Baseball is doing it. We just hope that across the board, this is [allowed] for everybody and athletes all over the world will be able to do this instead of taking the alternative of pills that could have life-long consequences.

We spoke with Harrington about the insane demand for cannabis products right now — after all, EVERYBODY is stressing out over COVID-19 — and he says his sales have DOUBLED. “The challenge is gonna be making sure that we can keep up with the demand at this point,” Harrington tells TMZ Sports. “Everybody is stocking up on their favorite brands. I feel like the ‘canna-curious’ is really steppin’ up right now, especially when you’re stuck in the house with your kids 24 hours a day.”

Marijuana, steroids and performance-enhancing drugs are some of the banned substances in the league’s anti-drug program, even though some states allow recreational and medicinal marijuana use for those 21 or older. According to the CBA, players testing positive for drugs of abuse are banned from the league for a minimum of two years, and players testing positive for performance-enhancing substances are suspended for 25 games for a first violation, 55 games for a second violation and are banned from the league for a minimum of two years for a third violation.

The ground rules for the private affair were nonnegotiable. All tickets, priced at $200, must be purchased online. Each buyer would be screened in advance. There would be no cell phones or personal vehicles. Invitees were directed to arrive at a central location in the Oakland hills, where they would be met by Mercedes-Benz vans and then shuttled a short distance to a residence identified only 48 hours earlier. The guest of honor was cannabis. The party’s host was Brian Shaw, the former NBA player and coach who uses various forms of the plant and insists it makes his life more comfortable.

The purpose of the sponsored event was to educate attendees – mostly retired professional athletes, musicians and other cultural influencers – about its various medicinal uses. Details could be found on the 12-page invitation featuring photos of, among others, former NBA commissioner David Stern and Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, quoting their belief in the health benefits of cannabis. Celebrity chef Nikki Steward, with residence hostess Nikki Shaw serving as co-chef, would prepare an eight-course meal, with a partial menu including braised lamb shanks, lobster mac-and-cheese, chicken pot pies, wings and veggie rolls. And, naturally, there would be desserts, some of which could be plucked from a supine, semi-nude female server.

The same month that Stern’s words went public, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its prohibited substance list. In June 2018, the BIG3, the three-on-three basketball league led by Ice Cube that features Harrington and other former NBA players, became the first American pro sports league to do the same. Roughly 18 months later, in January, Stern passed away after a brain hemorrhage. On the phone, Harrington’s voice trembled talking about it. “For the last two years, I kept saying, ‘I gotta go back to New York to run stuff by (Stern),’” Harrington said. “Unfortunately, there is no next time. Which sucks.”

Barnes says he smoked or “self-medicated” as part of his gameday routine. He’d go to shootaround, smoke a joint, nap for a couple hours and then go to the game. He did this same routine throughout his entire 14-year career. And Jackson? He didn’t like playing the least bit high. He’d smoke after games to balance out the adrenaline rush that pulsed through his veins. Some players drank alcohol to come down. He’d consume cannabis. In fact, he’d make sure a blunt was lit by the time he stepped into his car.

“It’s one of those plants that’s an acquired taste. If you love it, you love it. If you don’t, you’re not even going to be pick it up. It shouldn’t even be a discussion these days,” Durant said on a recent episode “All The Smoke” on Showtime. “It’s just like, marijuana is marijuana. It’s not harmful to anybody. It can only help and enhance and do good things. I feel like it shouldn’t even be a huge topic around it anymore.”

Durant, 31, compared weed’s effects to legalized and non-stigmatized stimulants. “Everybody on my team drinks coffee every day. Taking caffeine every day. Or guys go out to have wine after games or have a little drink here and there. Marijuana should be in that tone,” Durant said. “Why are we even talking about? It shouldn’t even be a conversation now. So hopefully we can get past that and the stigma around it and know that it does nothing but make people have a good time, make people hungry, bring people together — that plant brings us all together.”

So Harrington sees NBA All-Star weekend in Chicago, which along with the rest of Illinois allows recreational sale and use of marijuana as of Jan. 1, as an ideal time to promote his company and its message. Viola hosted a luxury suite and smoke lounge Saturday and a Sunday brunch. “This is an opportunity to raise awareness and a platform where a group of people — entrepreneurs and entertainers — are all in the same place,” Harrington said. “For my company, where it’s all black and minority ownership, it’s an opportunity to uplift and educate.”

Harrington, the founder of a cannabis company, Viola, has been at the forefront of championing a similar message in basketball. “I think the day-to-day pain management issues that players deal with can be dealt with through cannabis,” Harrington said of athletes who are often prescribed pain relievers following surgery, including highly addictive opioids. “Something that is all natural and nowhere near as harmful as the stuff that they’re using now.”

“We think that athletes use cannabis to get high, and that’s not the case,” said Antonio Harvey, another former NBA player-turned-advocate who founded Terra Mater Cannabis Company. “Our bodies are beat to s— every single night. … And a lot of guys use cannabis to cope with that. They don’t get high to get high. They get high to feel better.” Harrington, 39, said cannabis allows him to walk around pain-free after undergoing 13 surgeries over his 16-year playing career, which ended in 2014. There was a time when Harrington thought he would retire from basketball and go into coaching. But through his cannabis and CBD brands, Harrington believes he has found his calling.

Critics say the intended benefits of these products are still unclear and unproven. But Lamar Odom says it saved his life. And Pierce says it helped him move past other addictions. “Just being an athlete, you get addicted to pain medications,” Pierce says. “In my case, I was dealing with severe neck pain, because back in the early 2000s I was stabbed severely. I dealt with a lot of chronic pain in my neck and back. I was trying to find alternate remedies for this. And it got to the point where I was addicted to pain killers or NyQuil just to fall asleep, until I came across what CBD did for me.”

Former New York Knicks basketball players J.R. Smith and Al Harrington made a surprise appearance in Albany on Tuesday to push for pot to be legalized before the plan goes up in smoke at the end of the legislative session. The New Jersey-born hoops stars were invited by Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D-Buffalo), who is the sponsor of the recreational marijuana legislation, with the suspected tokers lending star power to the dying legislation. Harrington told The Post that he and Smith had “expertise” in both medical and recreational marijuana and were pushing for black communities to be included in the proposed legislation.

But he now sounds far more open to revising it. Silver, in an interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports: “It’s something that we are talking to Michele Roberts and the players association about, about what our policy should be. You might be surprised about it. But when I’ve talked to players about it, I think they have mixed feelings, some players. I think it’s not as much about what guys do in the summer. If they want to smoke pot in the summer, whatever. It’s legal in a lot of states, to your point. No issue. I do think there’s a little bit of concern about some of the pot smoking in-season. I think it’s a team sport, and I think part of the reason we have the rules in place, there was a time not so long ago when there were a group of players who felt – because, ultimately, the players association has to agree on any testing – that maybe there was too much pot being smoken in-season.”

“One of the things I’ve been talking more about in the last year is mental wellness of our players. And look, some guys are smoking pot just in the same way a guy would take a drink. And it’s like whatever. “Smoking pot, I’m just using it to come down a little bit or I just want to relax.” No big deal. No issue. And I think it’s the reason why it has been legalized in a lot of states. And from that standpoint, if that were the only issue, maybe we’re behind the times in our program. On the other hand, there’s also guys in the league who are smoking a lot of pot. And then the question is, why are you smoking a lot of pot? And that’s where mental wellness comes in. Because I’ve also talked directly to players who say, “I’m smoking a lot of pot, because I have a lot of anxiety. And I’m struggling.”

Silver: “And if that’s the reason they’re smoking a lot of pot – and by the way, alcohol is perfectly legal, and obviously we don’t have a ban against alcohol. We don’t test against alcohol, unless we have a reason to believe there’s a problem. But we don’t want guys to drink a lot, either. And I think if we hear that a guy is drinking a lot – whether it’s the players association, the team or the league – we’re approaching that guy and saying, “Can we help you?” First and foremost, we want guys to be in great shape. By the way, smoking isn’t great for your lungs.”

Brooklyn Nets All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell was cited at a New York airport Wednesday night after marijuana was found in his checked baggage, a person with knowledge of the incident told USA TODAY Sports. Russell, who was flying from LaGuardia Airport to Louisville International Airport, was questioned by police after a routine search flagged what at first glance appeared to be a can of Arizona Iced Tea. Upon further inspection, the can had a hidden compartment where marijuana was discovered. Russell received a summons to appear in court for marijuana possession.

A spokesperson for the Port Authority – the police agency for LaGuardia and other major airports in the New York metro area – did not yet have information on the incident when contacted Thursday. An NBA player would be required to enter the league’s marijuana program if the player “has been convicted of (including a plea of guilty, no contest or nolo contendere to) the use or possession of marijuana in violation of the law,” according to the current collective bargaining agreement. There’s no suspension until the third violation of the marijuana policy.
3 years ago via ESPN

Is the NHL’s marijuana policy the model of the future? The NFL’s CBA expires after the 2020 season, and it’s believed the drug policy will be a major discussion point. The NFLPA probably will argue for something similar to the NHL’s policy — test for marijuana, but don’t punish it — and it will be worth monitoring if the NFL agrees. The NBA and NBPA have had ongoing discussions about their marijuana policy, with commissioner Adam Silver seemingly open to reform, being quoted several times as saying, “We should follow the science.”

What do you think the NBA’s and other sports leagues’ policy on cannabis should be? Clifford Robinson: I think that it should be an impairment based policy. Treat it like alcohol. Just because a player has THC metabolites in their system does not mean that they are impaired, or that they are somehow not going to perform as well. These league’s cannabis policies are sometimes touted as being for the players’ own health, which is total propaganda. Cannabis is medicine. Leagues need to treat it as such.
3 years ago via MSN

It’s no secret that former NBA forward Matt Barnes is a cannabis aficionado, as he’s been outspoken about the topic since retiring from the league, and has become an advocate of sorts. Barnes played for nine NBA teams during the course of his 14-year NBA career, which ended on a high note, as he won a title with the Golden State Warriors in 2017. And apparently, Barnes used cannabis throughout his entire career, even dating back to high school. He recently appeared on Van Lathan’s “Red Pill Podcast,” and he admitted he smoked marijuana before every NBA game he played. “We’d have shootaround at 11, I’d be done by 12, back to the house by 12:30,” he said. “Roll a joint, smoke it. Take a nap, wake up, eat, shower, and go to the game.”

Brooklyn Nets star Kenneth Faried was arrested and charged for possessing more than 2 ounces of weed on Sunday … and TMZ Sports has the mug shot. The 28-year-old was arrested on the Montauk Highway in Bridgehamption, New York at 1:30 AM … after the vehicle he was riding in was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. A rep for the Southampton Town Police Dept. tells us the officer at the scene noticed a “strong odor of marjuana was emanating from the inside of the vehicle.”

Your winter meeting is Friday. Can you share what is on the agenda? Michele Roberts: “Not much. It will be a discussion of some of the issues that have been in the news. There has been a lot of buzz from the start of the year about medical marijuana. A lot of players are interested in knowing what that is all about, so we will have some conversations about that. [NBA commissioner] Adam [Silver] has revisited the issue on one-and-done, but there are some conversations we will have with the league about that. I wanted to get some input from players about that.

At 7 feet tall, Brad Miller’s adult life has been spent towering above most others. Now he’s working on a different way to get high. The former Sacramento Kings center’s new company, CHC California City, broke ground Friday on its cannabis manufacturing facility in eastern Kern County. The plant will put out 38 different cannabis products including edibles, water-soluble THC and vaporizer cartridges under the name Mountain Chief Products, California City Chamber of Commerce announced in a news release. Miller is the principal in CHC California City but will leave day-to-day operational oversight to deputy Ricky Mauch.

The plant will put out 38 different cannabis products including edibles, water-soluble THC and vaporizer cartridges under the name Mountain Chief Products, California City Chamber of Commerce announced in a news release. Miller is the principal in CHC California City but will leave day-to-day operational oversight to deputy Ricky Mauch. California City has emerged as a surprisingly pot-friendly oasis in the Mojave Desert, with 30 manufacturers or cultivators receiving licenses in the 14,000-person city as of last July, according to ABC23. Former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson broke ground on a 40-acre “marijuana resort,” half of which will be dedicated to cultivation facilities, on Dec. 20.

On Monday, California became the nation’s sixth state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana through the passage of 2016’s Proposition 64. On Tuesday afternoon, Warriors coach Steve Kerr expressed support for the drug. “I’m a proponent of it,” Kerr said after Tuesday’s practice. “I do feel strongly that [marijuana] is a much better option than some of the prescription drugs and I know that it’s helping a lot of people, which is great.”
4 years ago via ESPN

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.”
4 years ago via ESPN

Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns believes the NBA should allow the use of medicinal marijuana among its players. The topic recently came up with the young star during a wide-ranging Q&A with ESPN. In it, Towns was asked what one change he would make if he were commissioner Adam Silver. “I agree with David Stern with marijuana,” Towns told ESPN. “You don’t have to actually make it ‘Mary J’ [or] ‘Half Baked.’ You don’t have to do it like that, but you could use the [chemical] properties in it to make a lot of people better.
More HoopsHype Rumors
September 16, 2021 | 8:36 pm EDT Update
NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo was in Greece for a meeting with the country’s prime minister Thursday and a special ceremony to bestow Greek citizenship on his mother Veronica and younger brother Alex. Antetokounmpo, who led the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA championship in July, attended the ceremony at the official residence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The 26-year-old Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, the son of Nigerian immigrants. He was granted Greek citizenship in 2013, allowing him to travel to the United States and join the Bucks later that year.
“We always felt Greek, but now we have an official stamp and we are happy,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after the ceremony. “Alex and my mom are Greek citizens now.” Antetokounmpo also traveled to Greece in August with his brother Thanassis, carrying the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy. He took the trophy to the ancient Acropolis in Athens to celebrate with members of his family.
September 16, 2021 | 8:07 pm EDT Update