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Slam Dunk for Cannabis in Sports: NBA To Lift Marijuana Ban For This Season In New Contract

It’s a historic time in Canada with regards to marijuana news once again! Breaking news this week confirms that the NBA plans to lift all restrictions relating to marijuana for those involved in the sport, starting this season. The National Basketball Association will no longer test or penalize its players for marijuana use under its new and pending seven-year collective bargaining agreement, according to news reports.

The tentative deal was reached between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) on Saturday for the 2023-24 season, according to a statement released by NBPA. This agreement still needs to be ratified by players and sporting officials, and specifics will be determined once players’ term sheets are finalized.

What Does This Mean for Basketball Players in the NBA?

If the contract is approved, marijuana will be removed from the list of banned substances for players in the NBA, and removed from its drug testing program. Currently, cannabis is part of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the NBA and NBPA. Players must undergo regular drug testing, both on and off season. Marijuana is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List for all sports.

The NBA stopped randomly testing players for marijuana at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension was extended for the 2021-22 season, and a spokesperson said the NBA would be shifting its focus to randomly testing for “performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse.”

NBA Players Will Be Allowed to Smoke Weed Starting Next Season

This news is huge for cannabis advocates, as it serves to exemplify that major regulatory organizations are starting to look at marijuana in a new light. In the years since legalization, we have made great strides with regards to cannabis acceptance by mainstream Canadians. It appears that all the work done by cannabis activists in seeking to shed light on the benefits and therapeutic uses of marijuana has been paying off. Attitudes and perspectives seem to be shifting, and this major recognition by such a prominent organization as the NBA is evidence that cannabis is not, and should not be regarded in the same light as other drugs prohibited by many societal institutions.

Former NBA player Al Harrington told GQ that 85% of NBA players smoke or “use some type of cannabis.” In recent years, several athletes in the NBA and in other leagues have opened up about their use of marijuana and even openly expressed support for the legalization of marijuana.

A Shift in Perspective

If the deal goes through, basketball players will be able to do more than just smoke their favourite flower. The NBA isn’t just reportedly removing marijuana from its banned substances list for players—it’s also planning to let those players promote and invest in cannabis companies. Many professional sports leagues have started moving in the direction of relaxing their attitudes towards marijuana, but letting players promote and invest in marijuana companies would set NBA apart as especially progressive on the issue.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver signaled in late 2020 that its temporary policies could eventually become permanent after the league initially suspended cannabis testing when players competed in a quarantined “bubble” in Orlando at the start of the coronavirus pandemic earlier that year.

“We decided that, given all the things that were happening in society, given all the pressures and stress that players were under, that we didn’t need to act as Big Brother right now,” he said at the time. “I think society’s views around marijuana has changed to a certain extent.”

Breaking the Stigma Around Cannabis

We at CAFE have been at the forefront of the movement to destigmatize cannabis for years. We are beyond excited at this groundbreaking news from the NBA, as it signals continually wider acceptance of cannabis by society. More and more people are recognizing that cannabis is not the dangerous substance it was once regarded as. Rather, it is starting to become apparent that cannabis indeed is something of a miracle plant, with a long list of therapeutic benefits and use cases for those suffering with a range of ailments. Cannabis has been shown to be especially helpful in athletic recovery, so the professional experiences of basketball players going forward will be interesting to note. We are proud to be part of the change as we continue to advocate for open dialogue, responsible use and ongoing education around the many healing benefits of cannabis.

How We’re Celebrating at CAFE

We’ve loving this news! In honour of this historic moment, we’re renaming all of our top cannabis strains after some of the best and biggest names in the NBA. Come on in and check out our selection – all four of our CAFE dispensary locations will carry strains like LeBron Haze, Kyrie Kush, Durant Diesel, Chris Bosh Blend and many more! Our NBA themed strains will be available all day every day this weekend, Fri April 7 through Sunday April 9. Come on in to your favourite CAFE location or place an order online!

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