National Basketball Association (NBA) players will not be able to promote marijuana companies under a new collective bargaining agreement, contrary to early reports about the deal with the players union, a new summary document shows. But the league will remove drug testing requirements for THC, while allowing players to passively invest in the industry.
The document stipulates that while players “may promote a company that makes products containing CBD,” they will “continue to be prohibited from promoting marijuana companies.”
In other words, don’t expect to see Kevin Durant coming out with his own line of intoxicating cannabis products any time soon, or for players to otherwise be publicly endorsing marijuana brands.
That said, other details that were previously reported do check out, according to the “Key Deal Points” memo that summarizes the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that’s still being fully drafted. The document was first reported earlier on Wednesday by SFGATE.
Under the CBA that is set to go into effect on July 1, players can invest in CBD companies without specific restrictions, and they “may also hold a passive, non-controlling interest in a company that makes products containing marijuana.”
Arguably the most meaningful change in the league’s policy is the removal of marijuana drug testing requirements.
“Marijuana will be removed from the Prohibited Substances List,” the deal points paper says.
However, it clarifies that a “team that has reason to believe one of its players is under the influence of marijuana while engaged in NBA or team-related activities, or has a dependency issue involving marijuana, may refer the player to a treatment program.”
That is, players are free to consume cannabis legally off the court, but they remain barred from using marijuana at games or other team-related events like press conferences.
“The NBA and teams may impose reasonable discipline on players who are under the influence while engaged in any team activity or in violation of the law,” the document says.
This reform will formally codify what has been the league’s decision to temporarily suspend cannabis testing for the past three seasons.
Marijuana icon and NBA commentator Snoop Dogg recently weighed in on the policy change, applauding the league for taking steps that would allow players to use cannabis for medical purposes, including as a potential opioid alternative.
Michele Roberts, a onetime head of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) who also joined the board of the major cannabis company Cresco Labs in 2020, previously predicted that a formal change to codify the policy could come soon.
In 2021, it was announced that the online marijuana marketplace Weedmaps is teaming up with NBA star Kevin Durant for a multi-year partnership that’s aimed at destigmatizing cannabis and showcasing the plant’s potential value for “athlete wellness and recovery.”
A growing number of professional leagues have taken steps to enact marijuana policy reforms as more states have moved to legalize cannabis.
Nevada sports regulators recently voted to send a proposed regulatory amendment to the governor that would formally protect athletes from being penalized over using or possessing marijuana in compliance with state law.
The Chicago Cubs recently became the first Major League Baseball (MLB) team to officially partner with a CBD company, which follows the national organization’s league-wide partnership with a popular CBD brand last year.
MLB has stood out among other professional sports leagues as more willing to respond to the changing marijuana policy landscape. For example, it clarified in a memo in 2020 that players will not be punished for using cannabis while they aren’t working, but they can’t be personally sponsored by a marijuana company or hold investments in the industry.
UFC announced in 2021 that they would no longer be punishing fighters over positive marijuana tests.
Separately, student athletes that are part of the NCAA would no longer automatically lose their eligibility to play following a positive marijuana test under rules that are were recommended by a key committee last year.
The National Football League’s (NFL) drug testing policy already changed demonstrably in 2020 as part of a collective bargaining agreement.
Read the key points of the NBA collective bargaining agreement below: