The National Basketball Association will no longer test or penalize its players for marijuana use under its new and pending seven-year collective bargaining agreement, according to news reports.
The tentative deal was reached between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) on Saturday for the 2023-24 season, according to a statement released by NBPA.
“Specific details will be made available once a term sheet is finalized,” the NBPA said in the statement.
If the contract is ratified by the players and team governors, marijuana would be removed from the NBA’s drug testing program, effectively continuing its suspension on marijuana testing for this season.
“Since day one, the goal of the NBPA in this negotiation was to protect our players, enrich their lives on and off the court, and establish a framework that recognizes our players as true partners with the governors in both the NBA and the business world at large!” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in a tweet in response to the pending agreement.
According to Fox Sports, drug testing is a part of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the NBA and NBPA. Through the drug testing program, players are each subjected to no more than four random drug tests throughout the season and two random tests during the off-season. Marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List for all sports.
The NBA stopped randomly testing players for marijuana at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension was extended for the 2021-22 season, and a spokesperson said the NBA would be shifting its focus to randomly testing for “performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse.”
Athletes’ use of cannabis is widely controversial in the sports industry. Some argue that cannabis improves athletic performance, while others point to the pain relief and other medical benefits of cannabis and note that it does not operate similarly to performance enhancing drugs.
Former NBA player Al Harrington told GQ that 85% of NBA players smoke or “use some type of cannabis.” In recent years, several athletes in the NBA and in other leagues have opened up about their use of marijuana and even openly expressed support for the legalization of marijuana.
Meanwhile, other sports leagues, including the National Football League and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, have eased up on restrictions to marijuana use and testing protocols.