Ex-commissioner Stern: NBA should change policy on marijuana

David Stern. (Bullit Marquez/AP)

(Updated Thursday with statement from the NBA)

Even if professional athletes use marijuana legally in their personal lives, they still run the risk of potentially failing a drug test administered by their leagues, thus jeopardizing both their livelihood and reputation in their respective sports.

Former NBA commissioner David Stern spoke with former NBA player Al Harrington in a mini documentary posted Wednesday called “The Concept of Cannabis” from the UNINTERRUPTED where the two addressed the topic of athletes using medical marijuana.

“I’m now at the point where, personally, I think [marijuana] probably should be removed from the ban list,” Stern said. “I think there is universal agreement that marijuana for medical purposes should be completely legal.”

Harrington described Stern as being “the commissioner during the roughest time for the NBA for drugs.” Since leaving the NBA following the 2013-14 season, Harrington has been vocal about how medical marijuana can benefit athletes and Stern conceded it might be time for the NBA’s current regime to update its policies.

“It’s a completely different perception,” Stern added. “I think we have to change the Collective Bargaining Agreement and let you do what is legal in your state. If marijuana is now in the process of being legalized, I think you should be allowed to do what’s legal in your state.”

It will be an interesting topic to monitor going forward and to see what, if anything, the league and Adam Silver might do.

“While commissioner Silver has said that we are interested in better understanding the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana, our position remains unchanged regarding the use by current NBA players of marijuana for recreational purposes,” NBA executive VP of communications Mike Bass said in a statement issued to Sportsnet Thursday.

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