NBA Players Can Now Smoke Weed Legally – Ending the Worst Kept Sports Secret, Ever.

April 8, 2023 ·

According to a statement released by the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the NBA and the NBPA reached a deal over the weekend for the 2023-2024 season. The seven-year collective bargaining agreement specifies that NBA players will no longer be tested or punished for using cannabis.

Assuming the contract is approved by both team governors and players, the NBA’s drug testing program would no longer include cannabis, with the suspension on cannabis testing continuing for the current season. The Athletic has reported on other details of the negotiations, which include:

  • NBA players will not be penalized for using marijuana, as it has been excluded from the league’s drug testing program. Additionally, players will now have the option to invest in and promote both betting and cannabis companies. However, they can only sign non-gambling endorsement deals with sports betting companies.
  • NBA players will now have the opportunity to invest in NBA and WNBA teams through a private equity firm selected by the NBPA. In addition, players who attend the NBA Combine will be mandated to undergo physical examinations, which will be shared with specific teams based on player projections.
  • The extension limits for veterans will now rise from 120% to 140%, resulting in greater flexibility and significant impacts. Presently, the CBA stipulates that teams and players can only increase a player’s salary by 120% during the first year of the extension unless the player is a designated player or earns below the league’s average salary.
  • To be eligible for significant individual league awards, such as All-NBA and MVP recognition, players must participate in a minimum of 65 games. Furthermore, starting in the 2023-24 season, the NBA’s In-Season Tournament championship team will receive $500,000 per player in prize money.
  • Under the new CBA, a second tax apron will be introduced. When a team surpasses this apron, they will forfeit their taxpayer mid-level exception. Additionally, teams will now be able to offer a third two-way contract via cap exception. The CBA will also establish a new Second-Round Pick Exception, allowing teams to sign second-rounders without using their mid-level exception.

Tamika Tremaglio, the executive director of the NBPA, expressed on Twitter that from the outset, these negotiations aimed to safeguard the players and enhance their lives on and off the court. The plan was also to establish a structure acknowledging our players as genuine partners with the governors in the NBA and the broader business world.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the NBA stopped conducting random drug tests for marijuana. This policy was extended for the 2021-22 season. During this period, Mike Bass, a spokesman for the NBA, announced that the league would concentrate its random testing program on performance-enhancing substances.

The National Basketball Players Association stated on Twitter that they would publish detailed information once a term sheet has been completed.

Cannabis Policy in Other Sports


For the 2020-2021 season, the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement revised the league’s marijuana policy, permitting players to use cannabis during the offseason but continuing to prohibit it during the game season.

Additionally, the CBA increased the threshold for a positive marijuana test from 35 nanograms to 150 and eliminated suspensions for positive drug tests, replacing them with fines. Previously, the league randomly tested ten players from each team weekly during the season, and six positive tests led to a year-long suspension.


In the 2019 offseason, the MLB eliminated marijuana from its list of prohibited substances, permitting players to consume the drug during their free time. Nevertheless, players can still face the consequences of using cannabis if they demonstrate its effects during practices, games, workouts, meetings, or any other activities related to their employment.


Cannabis is not considered a prohibited substance by the NHL, and players will not be penalized for testing positive for it. If a player’s urine test reveals “unusually high levels,” they may be offered entry, which they can reject, into the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program. Although, the NHL will not be informed of their participation.

The Olympics

The Olympics adheres to the drug policy of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which prohibits cannabis use during the competition season but allows it during the offseason. Sha’Carri Richardson, an American Olympic runner, made headlines after being disqualified from the Olympics in 2021 due to testing positive for marijuana.

She tested positive after winning the Olympic trials in Oregon, where marijuana is legal. However, since the American Track Federation is affiliated with the Olympics, it also adheres to the drug policy of the WADA.

Some NBA Players Suspended for Cannabis Use

Malik Beasley

During the 2020-2021 season, Minnesota Timberwolves’ shooting guard Malik Beasley was suspended without pay for 12 games after his arrest for possessing cannabis and concealing stolen property. The suspension cost him $1.1 million.

Dion Waiters

During the 2019-2020 season, Miami Heat’s guard, Dion Waiters, was suspended without pay for ten games. This was after he suffered a panic attack on a team flight due to consuming a THC-infused edible.

Larry Sanders

During the 2013-2014 season, Larry Sanders was found to have tested positive for cannabis and was subsequently suspended without pay for a minimum of 10 games. As a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, Larry Sanders was suspended for cannabis use and missed the final five games of the 2013-2014 season. Before his contract expired, the Bucks bought it for $15 million.

Maurice Taylor

In the 2006-2007 NBA season, Maurice Taylor, a forward for the Sacramento Kings, was suspended for five games without pay due to his third positive test for marijuana use. He had previously admitted to using marijuana and was suspended for the first five games of the 2002-2003 season.


We can see that regulations on marijuana use in sports have changed over time. While some leagues have eliminated it from their list of prohibited substances, others have modified their rules or replaced punishments with fines. Marijuana-related penalties have included suspensions and financial losses for athletes. It is unclear how these rules will develop going forward as more, and more states are legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use. (Full Story)

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