The National Basketball Association (NBA) has the lowest drug-testing threshold for cannabis out of the major sports. If an NBA player has 15 ng/mL of THC metabolites in their system, they fail the league’s drug test. To put that number into perspective, Olympic athletes are held to a standard of 150 ng/mL. Why can Olympic athletes have 10 times as much THC metabolites in their system compared to NBA players? How does that make any sense?
Obviously, the NBA’s cannabis policy is ludicrous and is based on the outdated political views of the league’s leadership, and not on science or compassion for its players. That is a point that retired NBA All-Star Clifford ‘Uncle Cliffy’ Robinson has been making for years. Robinson, who is appearing at the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC), has a message for the NBA – treat cannabis the same way that it does alcohol.
The NBA widely embraces alcohol. It sells alcohol at arenas, it welcomes league sponsorships from alcohol companies, and it lets players consume alcohol away from the team and during championship celebrations in locker rooms. No one is suggesting that players be able to spark up in locker rooms, but it is beyond time that the NBA allows players to use cannabis in a responsible manner after practice, after games, and in the offseason if they choose to do so. Uncle Cliffy hammered home that point in a recent interview with ICBC:
ICBC: What do you think the NBA’s and other sports leagues’ policy on cannabis should be?Uncle Cliffy: 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.
The NBA has no exceptions for medical cannabis use, and no exceptions for use that occurred in a legal state. Look at how many NBA teams are located in states that have legalized cannabis for medical and/or adult-use. Soon Canada will be legal nationwide, including in Toronto where the Raptors play. If the player is consuming responsibly, off the clock, in a place where it’s legal why should the NBA care?