UPDATED 12/4, 12:45 p.m. ET: NBA spokesman Mike Bass has addressed the league's decision to not test players for marijuana in the upcoming season, The New York Times' Marc Stein reports.
"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 focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse," Bass said.
See original story below.
The NBA will reportedly forego testing its players for marijuana for the 2020-21 campaign, continuing a revision to league policy that started during the season restart in Orlando just a few months ago, according to Ben Dowsett.
The belief is that the NBA wants to limit the amount of unnecessary contacts with players, who must already navigate the extensive protocols that come with trying to complete a shortened season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to play in the bubble, it was announced that testing for recreational drugs would be suspended. Now that the league has chosen to do without marijuana testing again, it could mean that the NBA is trending towards phasing out the program.
The NBA's reproted decision to become less stringent towards preventing marijuana use among players comes at a time where more and more states have grown increasingly lenient about punishing people for weed. Last month, New Jersey and Arizona residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana, while South Dakota became the first state to approve medical and recreational use at the same time.
According to ESPN, there are only six states where one of the four major sports teams play that hasn't legalized marijuana in one form or another: Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. While the league appears to be aligning itself with a perspective towards marijuana use that's shared with many people across the United States, NBA commissioner Adam Silver remains cautious about altering their stance over how it would be interpreted by their young fans.
"When we change our policy we have to be really careful because we’re clearly sending a message to young people," Silver previously said. "Just like with alcohol, you have to teach young people how to use a substance appropriately and responsibly so it doesn’t overwhelm your life."