You can smoke weed and still be a great basketball player. So says former NBA forward Al Harrington.
Al Harrington has become one of the biggest cannabis icons from the world of pro basketball. But he wasn't always so keen on marijuana. In fact, it wasn't until he entered the NBA in the late 90s that his perceptions of the drug were challenged, and he learned cannabis consumers weren't all just lazy stoners.
"When I got to the NBA, it was the first time that I realized that athletes can use cannabis and still be very productive," Harrington told Bloomberg. "Some of the best players on my teams were self-medicating all the time, so that's when I first realized that the stigma wasn't true."
These days, Harrington would even go say far as to say that reducing stigma around cannabis—and in particular the non-intoxicating cannabis derivative CBD—would help bring more people into sports by replacing the dangerous painkillers athletes often take to treat injuries.
"I think CBD's kind of a gateway into sports," he said. "If the teams in these organizations know what's best for their players, they should take a deeper dive into the cannabis plant because there's something there."
Harrington's wish might not be too far away either, as some major sports leagues are starting come around to the idea of allowing players to use medical marijuana. Earlier this year, the NFL announced that they would study the use of medical marijuana as a pain management medication.
In Harrington's own sport, things are changing too. In early June, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he would be open to amending the league's medical marijuana policies if that's what players want.
Still, even if things do change, Harrington said work needs to be done about the public perception of cannabis consumers.
"If cannabis goes legal and the NBA says players can consume, if Steph Curry missed ten threes, everybody's going to say he's high," Harrington said.
Does Harrington know something about Curry the rest of us don't?