NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he won't repeal the league's ban on marijuana now or in the foreseeable future. That means medical marijuana will remain out-of-bounds for injured players - even if they live in states where it's legal.
Before last month's NBA draft, Silver sat down for a Players Tribune interview with C.J. McCollum, a guard for the Portland Trailblazers in Oregon - one of 8 American states where medical and recreational marijuana use are now legal. McCollum asked the commissioner if the league would follow Oregon's lead and let players consume cannabis for recreational or medical purposes.
It's a reasonable question since cannabis could be a safer and more effective treatment for sports injuries than the addictive and potentially deadly opioids that have become commonplace in major league locker rooms. But Silver shot down the idea of letting players have a puff off the court because he's worried they might foul out on the road.
“I don’t see the need for any changes right now," Silver told McCollum. "I mean, it’s legal in certain states. But as you know, our players are constantly travelling, and it might be a bit of a trap to say we’re going to legalize it in these states, but no, it’s illegal in other states. And then players get in a position where they’re travelling with marijuana, and we’re obviously getting into trouble.”
That's a big setback for advocates like Cliff Robinson, a former Trailblazer and NBA All-Star who says the NBA should embrace cannabis as an alternative treatment for sports injuries.
"Teams want to keep their players out on the court, and not all prescription drugs work for everyone," Robinson told Civilized last year. "So I think they definitely need to look at alternative means to treat inflammation, muscle relaxation, things of that nature. So you have to look at CBD-based products to really give them [players] an opportunity" to stay healthy.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that opportunity will come until cannabis prohibition is repealed across the country. Or Silver stands up for his players against the likes of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.