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NBA suspends cannabis doping tests

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Photo: DR | Kannabia

A NBA – National Basketball Association – will suspend random cannabis testing for the 2020-21 season, after reaching an agreement with the NBPA - National Basketball Players Association, confirmed the NBC Sports and Forbes. The 72-game NBA season begins December 22.

“Due to unusual circumstances, in conjunction with the pandemic, we have agreed with the NBPA to suspend randomized cannabis testing for the 2020-21 season and focus our random testing program on performance enhancing products and drugs of abuse.” said NBA spokesman Mike Bass. Only “cause” tests will be performed, such as offenders who have previously failed drug tests.

In an interview published in GQ on Friday, Michele Roberts, executive director of the NBPA, said: “We will not expose our players to unnecessary risks… And it is not necessary to know if our players test positive for cannabis.” Cannabis remains, however, a banned substance in the NBA, according to the current collective bargaining agreement, but it seems that these rules will be relaxed in the future.

The different sports leagues in the United States of America are no longer testing players for cannabis. Photo: The Fresh Toast

Baseball, Hockey and American Football leagues had already eased control over cannabis

The NBA is not the first league to roll back cannabis restrictions. THE NFL – National Football League stopped testing its players for cannabis in April of this year, while MLB – Major League Baseball had already removed cannabis from its “drugs of abuse” list in December of 2019.

Instead of penalizing cannabis users, MLB has shifted to a more aggressive stance towards opioids. The move came after the death of Los Angeles Angels player Tyler Skaggs, 27, on July 1. The autopsy revealed that Skaggs died of choking on his own vomit after ingesting alcohol and high levels of opioids, including Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Oxymorphone.

Also the NHL – National Hockey League stopped punishing cannabis-positive players, despite still requiring random drug testing.

NBA will not test players again in 2022 

John Hollinger, senior NBA drafter, said this agreement “was nothing unexpected as testing was also suspended during the conclusion of the 2019-20 season in Orlando, but the league needed to cement its policy for the upcoming season. The logistical hurdle of implementing a policy and the popularity of change among players have always made this a likely outcome,” he said.

Hollinger also confessed that "now that the genie is out of the bottle, it will be difficult to put it back." The inclusion of cannabis testing in the league's drug policy has always been a contentious issue with the NBPA and its continuation would not be in line with recent legal changes that decriminalized its use in several states where NBA teams play.
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Featured Photo: DR –  Kannabia

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