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December 28, 2020

NBA Will Not Be Testing Players for Marijuana During 2020-21 Season

The league stopped testing players for marijuana in the bubble in Orlando last season.

The NBA utilizing a bubble in Orlando to complete the 2019-20 season was a one-time thing, but the league plans to bring back some aspects from the bubble for the '20-21 season. The league plans to bring back the anonymous hotline for players to report potential violations of COVID-19 safety protocols, and the league has announced it will also not test its players for marijuana in the coming season, as first reported by Forbes' Ben Dowsett. The league stopped testing players for marijuana while the season was suspended earlier this year, and that trend continued in the bubble. 

From NBA spokesperson Mike Bass: 

"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"

Given the fact that more and more states are legalizing the recreational use of marijuana every year, it's worth wondering if the league will ever go back to testing its players for the substance. Commissioner Adam Silver has previously stated that the league was looking into potential adjustments to its rules regarding marijuana. 

"I feel sometimes that, It's uncool that the league still tests for marijuana. And I think that's not exactly where the state of the science on marijuana is," Silver said in May of 2019. "I think that, clearly to the extent it has medicinal qualities, those are things that we should be looking at. Where it's in terms of pain relief, of course. And that's something that's being studied, not just by us. The NFL recently announced they're studying that issue, as well. And we should look at it."

Change may be inevitable when it comes to the NBA's marijuana policy, but Silver wants to go about executing such changes carefully knowing that the league and its players have an enormous impact on young people all over the world. 

" I think when we change our policy, we have to be very careful, because clearly we're going to be sending a message to a lot of young people," Silver said. "And at the end of the day, I think we all agree that, whether or not marijuana is a legal substance, just like with alcohol, you still have to teach young people how to use a substance like that appropriately and responsibly and so it doesn't overwhelm your life. So, it's a complicated issue." 

The league has enough to worry about already in the coming season with constant COVID testing, and all that will go into safely executing a season, so it's understandable that marijuana testing would take a backseat. At this point, it's possible that we've already seen the end of marijuana testing in the NBA. 

The article was originally published on

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