When the NBA resumes its season next month at Walt Disney World, players will be tested for the coronavirus on a daily basis. What they won’t be tested for: recreational drugs like marijuana.
That is according to NBA insider Shams Charania, who reported earlier this week that while the league and its players’ union agreed to continue testing for performance-enhancing drugs, it will continue its suspension of testing for recreational drugs.
In March, after the NBA suspended play due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the union and league agreed to stop, at least temporarily, testing for drugs like pot. Under current league policy, players are subject to drug testing several times throughout the season; a positive test for pot will lead to a suspension and/or a fine.
The decision to continue the suspension of that policy when the season tips-off again on July 31 at Disney’s resort complex in Orlando has prompted speculation that the days of players getting punished for weed might be numbered. It also comes at a time when drug testing policies across major American sporting leagues are in the midst of something of a seachange.
Cannabis and Professional Sports
In December, Major League Baseball announced that players will be tested for harder drugs such as opioids and cocaine, but that marijuana would essentially be treated the same as alcohol—although earlier this year the league clarified that, despite removing pot from the list of banned substances, players could continue to face consequences if they break marijuana laws or show up to the ballpark stoned.
And in March, under a newly inked collective bargaining agreement between team owners and the players’ union, the National Football League eliminated suspensions for positive marijuana tests.
Pressure will almost certainly now shift to NBA commissioner Adam Silver to make a similar move. In an interview last year, Silver said that although he wasn’t that concerned about players’ using marijuana on their summer vacations, he continued to harbor “a little bit of concern about some of the pot smoking in-season.”
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