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David Stern Vouches For Medical Marijuana Use Among NBA Players

The ex-commissioner had a change of heart
by Andrei Medina | Oct 26, 2017
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David Stern was the NBA commissioner from 1984 to 2014 and during his time, he helped the league take on a tougher stance against drugs, including the players’ use of marijuana for medical and rehabilitative purposes.

But times are quickly changing and the public is starting to recognize the benefits of medical marijuana in various states in the US. Now three years into his retirement, Stern seems to also have had a change of heart.

Stern’s new stance on medical marijuana was recorded during an interview with Uninterrupted which was done by former NBA player Al Harrington who admits using medical marijuana during his time in the league. Harrington now fondly calls himself a “cannabis entrepreneur.”

Here are some salient points from their discussion on the use of medical marijuana:

Stern’s perception back then

“Well, I would say that it was sort of generally known at some point until we tightened the rules that a lot of players were smoking a lot of marijuana. In fact, some of our players came to us and said ‘some of these guys are high coming into the game’ but we began tightening it up and at that time people accepted the generally held wisdom that marijuana was a gateway drug and that if you start smoking, you’re liable to go on to bigger and better stuff.”

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But today’s a completely different story

“Although the leagues have been slow to adjust, appropriately so I think myself, I’ve been influenced by the CNN... I think that pretty smart people don’t know what’s right and what’s not right but I think there’s a universal agreement that marijuana, for medical purposes, should be completely legal.”


He also faced personal struggles that helped form his new perception

“Actually, I use something called Voltaren which is like a step up from the leaf. It’s an anti-inflammatory, it’s not a pain killer—I hate pain killers. The doctors give me 90 oxycodone pills, you know I can make a killing on the street. I never take them cause they say ‘here take this, stay ahead of the pain’ but that’s nuts. I just don’t understand why it’s (medical marijuana) not being clinically studied by the best hospitals.”

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Stern also discussed how medical marijuana could play a vital role in potentially extending the careers of prized players

“I don’t think there’s been a proper spokesperson for this subject. I think that if medical marijuana is available, then it’s up to the individual team doctor. You tell me it worked for you and it worked for others that you know, then we should find a way to get that defined and made official, and then proceed to educating team docs. And I think all of the leagues are now appropriately focused on player training, structuring of the right parts of their body, player rehabilitation in the case of injury, player nutrition, player this, that. Can you imagine if we could create a situation where every superstar was able to play one additional year?”

Final thoughts

“I think we got to change the Collective Bargaining Agreement and let you do what’s legal in your state. I don’t think marijuana is now in the process of being illegalized. I would think you should be allowed to do what’s legal in your state. So now I think it’s up to the sports leagues to anticipate where this is going and maybe lead the way.”

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“This isn’t about prescribing it, it’s about deciding to take it off the banned substance of lists because it’s no different than other subjects that may work or not work with particular players. I’m now at the point where personally, I think it probably, should be removed from the banned list.”


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