All over the country, Canadians are riding high on the fact that the Toronto Raptors are just a game away from taking the NBA Finals for the first time in the franchise’s history.
And while many sports leagues are exploring the potential of CBD to help with inflammation, or partnering for product sponsorships, it is still against almost all pro-sports league rules to test positive for THC — the most popular psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
The NBA is no exception.
- New rules bar flight crews from using cannabis almost a month before flying
- Canada's ending of cannabis prohibition parallels alcohol in big ways
- Cannabis border seizures appear to have dropped since legalization
The 2017 collective bargaining agreement between players and the league make the consequences pretty clear, as well as the testing regime players can expect.
The responsibility for overseeing all drug testing — cannabis or otherwise — falls to the NBA’s medical director, currently Stephen Taylor. When it comes to cannabis specifically, the NBA takes a different approach than most other drugs, in fact, there an “abuse of drugs program” and a stand-alone “marijuana program.”
“The Medical Director shall have the responsibility, among other duties, for selecting and supervising the counsellors and other personnel necessary for the effective implementation of the Drugs of Abuse and Marijuana Programs, for making medical review determinations for Prohibited Substances other than SPEDs, for evaluating and treating players subject to such programs,” reads the agreement.
As part of the agreement, players can be tested four times in the span of a season, and two random tests during the off-season. There is also a section that allows for testing if there is a reasonable suspicion that they have been using illicit drugs or steroids and performing enhancing drugs (SPEDs).
Interestingly enough, the agreement with the players focuses off-season testing on SPEDs, not prohibited drugs.
For the first such violation, the player is “required to enter the marijuana program.” From there, the punishments escalate. Second infractions involve a $25,000 and continued participation in the league’s program. Third violations result in the player being suspended for five games.
Any further infractions result in another suspension for five more games.
Compared to many other pro-sports leagues the punishment seems fairly light, which might be why rapper The Game once tried to lure a then free-agent LeBron James to LA by naming a cannabis strain after him.