The National Basketball Association will no longer test its players or penalize them for marijuana use under the pending collective bargaining agreement reached on Saturday between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) for the 2023-24 season, according to a statement from the NBPA.
If the pending 7-year agreement is ratified by team governors and the players, marijuana will be removed from the NBA’s drug testing protocols. Testing for marijuana use was already suspended from the NBA’s drug testing program this season.
Fox Sports reported that drug testing is part of the collective bargaining agreement between the two parties. Players are subjected to no more than four random drug tests during a season as well as two additional random drug tests during the off-season.
Marijuana is on the list of substances prohibited for all sports by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
At the start of the pandemic, the NBA suspended random drug testing for marijuana. That suspension was extended for the 2021-22 season. According to an NBA spokesperson, the NBA will be shifting the focus of its random drug testing to “performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse.”
The use of cannabis by athletes is widely controversial, with some arguing that cannabis can improve athletic performance while others have said it does not have the same effect as other performance-enhancing drugs. Proponents also highlight the medical benefits of using cannabis products, including pain relief.
In a recent interview with GQ Magazine, former NBA player Al Harrington said about 85 percent of NBA players either smoke pot or use some kind of cannabis.
Several NBA athletes have opened up about their marijuana use in recent years and have expressed their support for its legalization.
The National Football League and the Ultimate Fighting Championship have also eased restrictions on their testing protocols and the use of marijuana by athletes.