For nearly four decades after the founding of the National Basketball Association (NBA), interest in the sport was minimal at best. Then came David Stern, the commissioner credited with turning the league into one of the most popular sporting organizations in the world. Stern left his position in 2014, but he’s now joined a growing chorus of sports figures calling for medical marijuana to be allowed in the NBA.
Medical Marijuana About-Face
As commissioner of the biggest professional basketball league in the world, David Stern instituted a variety of changes that led to its greatness. He is also the man responsible for creating the harsh penalties that basketball players now face for the use of cannabis. But in a new documentary released by cannabis entrepreneur and former NBA star Al Harrington, Stern admits he’s had a change of heart.
Stern didn’t go as far as saying all marijuana use should be allowed. After all, he stated that his reasoning behind establishing the penalties in the first place was the fact that players were showing up to games high. However, after discussing the issue of medical marijuana with Harrington, Stern admits that cannabis products do have medicinal uses and that the NBA should loosen their restrictions.
Cannabis Acceptance Within Sports
While Stern’s support for medical cannabis in the NBA is turning heads, he’s not the first to suggest altering drug policies in sports. Allen Sills, a neurosurgeon and chief medical officer in the NFL, said that studying marijuana for its potential medicinal uses is essential for the health of players. While cannabis has long been used for pain relief, recent studies have also shown its effectiveness in reducing the damage caused by concussions — a serious concern in the NFL.
Around the same time that Sills put his support behind medical marijuana research, the NFL reached out to their players’ union with a promise to back research as well. Just like the NBA, the NFL currently bans the use of cannabis by its players, but its support of further research is the strongest indication yet that the National Football League may be softening its stance on the issue.
Studies on the Benefits of CBD
It’s difficult to get approval for studies on marijuana, so the fact that there’s so much evidence of its health benefits speaks volumes. One of the most studied compounds in the cannabis plant — due to consistent findings of its effectiveness — is cannabidiol (CBD). Reducing anxiety, seizures, nausea, and the occurrence of diabetes are just a few of its purported effects. For athletes, improved cardiovascular health, reduced inflammation, and a lessening of concussion effects certainly make a case for medical marijuana in sports.
Acceptance of medical marijuana in the NBA and other sporting organizations will take time. But the winds are clearly changing in favor of a new policy and, at this point, it seems like only a matter of time before professional athletes are allowed to take advantage of the benefits of medical marijuana.