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NBA Agrees to Halt Random Drug testing for Marijuana for 2020-2021 NBA Season

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the NBA reached an agreement to suspend random drug testing for Marijuana for the upcoming 2020-2021 season citing the pandemic as the reasoning.

Mike Bass, league spokesperson, said, “Due to the unusual circumstances in conjunction with the pandemic, we have agreed with the NBPA to suspend random testing for marijuana for the 2020-21 season, “and he continued on to say, “And focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse.”

What does this mean for the NBA and Players?

Before testing was halted, players were required to submit to four random drug tests per season and if player tested positive once he would then be required to enter the NBA drug program. If the play tests positive a second time the player would receive a $25k fine and a third positive test would result in a 5-game suspension.

Marijuana will remain on the NBA’s ban substance list and players that have tested positive in the past or have given the league reason to suspect use are still be tested and punished for a positive test, but this isn’t the first time the NBA has halted random drug testing.

Last summer, when the bubble was first implemented, the NBA suspended random drug testing for the 22 teams that participated for the rest of the season.

Marijuana and Sports

The NBA isn’t the only pro sports league that has begun to take a more modernized approach to marijuana.

Back in December 2019, the MLB removed marijuana from its “drug abuse” list and shifted their policies toward combating opioid addiction. The new collective bargaining agreement between the and the Players association increased the threshold for determining a positive test and the NHL still requires random drug tests, but they don’t punish players for a positive test.

Over the last decade or so, public opinion regarding marijuana use has changed with nearly 50% of the country legalizing it whether for medical, recreational, or both on a state level. Just a few days ago the house passed a bill that would decriminalize marijuana on a federal level. This might not make it past the senate, but in the next few years we could see a shift in policy that might erase the need for marijuana testing in pro sports.

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