In a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports, NBA commissioner Adam Silver wouldn’t comment on when he thought such a change in drug policies might happen, although he did say that it’s something he’s been speaking to the NBA Players Association (NBAPA) about.
«When I’ve talked to players about it, I think they have mixed feelings,» said Silver.
«I think it’s not as much about what guys do in» the off-season, said Silver. Instead, players are concerned that if their teammates get on the court high they might not play the best and could be letting the team down.
«[Cannabis] certainly isn’t a performance-enhancing drug if you put it that way,» said Silver.
Silver went on to say that in his view a player choosing to smoke a little cannabis to help them unwind after a big game really isn’t that different from having a drink to achieve the same thing. And in that sense Silver admitted that the NBA might be «behind the times.»
When it comes to potential medical uses for cannabis, that’s something he’s willing to explore as well.
«It has medicinal qualities—those are the things we should be looking at. In terms of pain relief, of course.»
This is a pretty significant turnaround for Silver, who said back in 2017 that he saw no need to update the league’s drug policies at the time.
So, while Silver certainly hasn’t made any solid commitments to updating the league’s marijuana policies, he does seem open to the prospect if the NBAPA brings the issue to their collective bargaining negotiations. However, that means possible changes to the NBA drug policy are still a few years away, as their current collective bargaining agreement is set to run through until the end of the 2023–24 season.
In the meantime though, it is increasingly possible that the NFL will update their drug policies in the coming year. If that happens it could provide the groundwork other major sports leagues like the NBA need to make their own cannabis reforms happen.