Retired NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson wants to take on stigmas around cannabis use. And he's doing it by setting up a pot shop in Oregon, where he played for the Portland Trailblazers for eight seasons from 1989 to 1997.
"I want to [address] the stigma around cannabis, the misperception that athletes and cannabis are incompatible," Robinson told the Portland Business Journal.
He also wants to use his celebrity status to challenge the NBA's position on cannabis. The league has banned medicinal and recreational marijuana use despite the plant's legality in states like Oregon, and its medical benefits.
Robinson says the ban forces players to use worse medications:
Cannabis is definitely a more positive alternative to pharmaceuticals. Those are synthetics. I'm talking about something that's natural that can bring the outcomes you're looking for, be it for muscle tension or relaxation or preparedness. There are a whole lot of different things that are beneficial.
Robinson's cannabis use went against the league's rules during his career. His punishments included a five-game suspension during the 2006 playoffs. "When I did it, it was wrong," Robinson told KOIN News in Portland. "I did it, I was wrong, I paid the penalty. But now we're in a new time, and we're trying to move forward."
But he knows that persuading the league to reconsider its position on cannabis will take a lot of work: "There are a lot of things that have to fall into place" before the NBA warms to marijuana. "There's a current CBA [collective bargaining agreement] in place, so the next round of negotiations would be the next opportunity to discuss it."
The players and the league will not negotiate a new CBA until Spring 2017, so prohibition will reign in the league for at least another full season.
Robinson says that a new crop of legal states would certainly help his cause: "Until more states come online and the negative perception has change [sic], it [the stigma] will continue to be in the conversation."