NBA Expected to Return in July without Cannabis Testing for Players

ORLANDO, Fla. – As the National Basketball Association (NBA) prepares to resume its season after an abrupt pause due to COVID-19, testing for cannabis will remain on hiatus. 

All of the twenty-two teams returning (the eight worst performing teams this season will not be playing) will play their games in Orlando, Florida, at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in order to limit travel and exposure to the coronavirus. It appears any players who used cannabis during their time away from basketball have nothing to worry about. While players will be screened for performing enhancing drugs, they will not be tested for recreational drugs including cannabis.

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“The NBA and NBPA have agreed to conduct performance-enhancing drug testing during resumed 2019-20 season in Orlando—but tests for recreational drugs will remain suspended,” NBA reporter Shams Charania said on Twitter. Charania has previously written for Yahoo Sports and now works at The Athletic and Stadium.

The league also declined to test players during the long break after the pandemic forced games to shut down. League Commissioner Adam Silver, who has never taken a particularly harsh stance on cannabis since his tenure began does not seem inclined to push for testing anytime soon. However, Silver was reluctant to outright endorse players using cannabis.

“When we change our policy we have to be really careful because we’re clearly sending a message to young people,” Silver said according to Benzinga. “Just like with alcohol, you have to teach young people how to use a substance appropriately and responsibly so it doesn’t overwhelm your life.”

In another sign that the NBA is becoming the most progressive major sports league in regard to cannabis, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association Michele Roberts joined the board of directors for Cresco, a major U.S.-based cannabis producer.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on Cresco Labs’ board and work alongside the senior leadership and management teams in their efforts to elevate the company to the next level of excellence,” Roberts said in a press release.

According to the statement, Roberts was drawn to Cresco’s products and the company’s approach to social equity.

“I look forward to advancing Cresco Labs’ distinctive brands of high quality products and services, particularly those focused on the promise held by medicinal cannabis to treat conditions and illnesses where more traditional protocols have not met the patients’ needs, and I am also committed to supporting Cresco’s Labs’ social responsibility efforts which are focused on the industry’s first national Social Equity and Education Development (SEED) initiative to better both individual lives and underrepresented communities.”

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