At the beginning of April, the NBA announced it would be changing its policy and allowing players to use marijuana. Cannabis was removed from the organization’s anti-drug testing program. It should come as no surprise that Snoop Dogg is fully backing the NBAs new marijuana policy.
Read on to find out what it’s all about.
What is the NBAs New Marijuana Policy?
On April 1, 2023, Shams Charania, Senior NBA Insider for the Athletic broke the news of the NBAs new marijuana policy on Twitter.
“NBA players will no longer be prohibited from marijuana under the new seven-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. It’s been removed from the anti-drug testing program, a process that began during the 2019-202 season,” the post read.
The NBA’s previous policy mandated that players must enter a treatment and counseling program if they were found with marijuana in their system. A second positive test would lead to a $250,000 fine. A third violation would lead to a five-game suspension.
The NBAs new marijuana policy reflects a gradual shift. The organization announced that it would stop doing random marijuana testing as part of its 2020 Covid “restart bubble” policy. The idea was to make other drugs like performance-enhancing, growth hormone drugs, and more addictive drugs like opiates and cocaine a priority.
The organization’s 2020-2021 collective bargaining agreement allowed players to use marijuana during the off-season but prohibited it during game season. The new policy raised the threshold for a positive test from 35 to 150 nanograms of marijuana. Players who tested positive would be fined rather than suspended.
There has also been a shift among players and the masses. THC is legal in 73% of the states with NBA teams. Several players openly support marijuana including Al Harrington and J.R. Smith. The change in sensibilities has fueled the need for the NBAs new marijuana policy.
Other Sports Organizations Join In
The NBAs new marijuana policy is a sign of the times. The MLB joined the movement by removing marijuana from its banned substances list in 2019. The organization allowed players to use the drug in their off time. But players that were clearly under the influence during games, meetings, practices, and workouts would still be punished.
The NHL does not categorize marijuana as a banned substance. Players are not punished for testing positive. However, if they are found with “abnormally high levels” of marijuana during a urine test, they are offered admission into the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Program.
It’s up to players to accept or decline the invitation. The NHL won’t be told that they have been enrolled in the program if they accept.
The Olympics follows the World Anti-Doping Agency’s drug use policy which bans marijuana during competition seasons but does not prohibit it during the off-season.
Snoop Dogg’s Take on the NBAs New Marijuana Policy
Snoop Dogg is a well-known marijuana advocate so it should come as no surprise that he fully backs the NBAs new marijuana policy. He joined sports TV personalities Jalen Rose and Stephen A. Smith to discuss the topic during a live broadcast of the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bull’s play-in game on April 12.
“I thought about the medical side of it, the health benefits, and how it could help ease the opioids and all the pills that they’ve been given and the injections,” Snoop said, describing how he felt when he first heard about the NBAs new marijuana policy.
The 51-year-old rapper had previously discussed marijuana’s potential as an opioid alternative for athletes during a 2021 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
“I thought about that side and how certain players have been able to have a beautiful life after sports because they’ve been able to treat themselves with that.”
At the time, the MLB and NHL had loosened their restrictions and Snoop was excited to find that the NBA was following in their footsteps.
“As long as it doesn’t enhance your skills to make you play better or give you an advantage, you should be able to treat yourself and heal yourself,” he went on to say.
Marijuana as an Opioid Alternative
It’s unclear whether the NBAs new marijuana policy considered cannabis as a potential alternative to opioids for athletes or whether it was a sign of the times. But Snoop brings up a good point. Cannabis is being more widely considered as an opioid substitute.
Opioids are drugs that are commonly prescribed for pain. They work by raising serotonin levels and interacting with receptors that send messages between the brain and nervous system to reduce feelings of pain.
Unfortunately, opioids are also highly addictive and dangerous. More than 500,000 opioid-involved deaths have occurred since 2000.
While there is some evidence supporting marijuana’s potential to cause addiction, it’s not as addictive as opioids. What’s more, it’s very rare for a marijuana overdose to lead to death.
But how does it work to relieve pain?
A 2017 National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) study found that cannabis may improve symptoms of chronic pain.
Two review articles evaluating 2000 patients found that cannabis was effective in reducing pain related to non-cancer symptoms such as muscle stiffness. It reduced sleeping difficulties, improved quality of life, and met with high levels of patient satisfaction.
A medication known as nabiximols, which has a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC has been shown to relieve pain associated with cancer and multiple sclerosis.
CBD is often used for its pain-relieving effects. The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent has been found to help with nerve pain, and arthritis pain, and to improve sleep. Studies have also revealed its potential to reduce or eliminate the need to take opioids.
The NBAs new marijuana policy brings a huge change to the world of sports and the population in general. What’s more, it’s Snoop Dogg approved. What do you think of the organization’s current outlook?