Adam Silver Discusses NBA's Evolving Marijuana Policy on B/R's Full 48 Podcast

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2018

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media after the Board of Governors meetings on September 21, 2018 at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Michelle Farsi/Getty Images

The NBA has had discussions with the National Basketball Players Association regarding the league's marijuana policy, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver revealed to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck on The Full 48 podcast. 

Silver told Beck the two sides have been discussing the policy "for some time."

"I don't want to speak for [NBPA executive director] Michele [Roberts], but she and I have a somewhat similar view on this, which is: We should follow the science," Silver said. "This is not an ethical issue for me. It's not a moral issue for me. I obviously see what's happening in states around America."

Ten states have legalized both the medical and recreational use of marijuana. Of that group, five are home to at least one NBA team: Oregon, California, Colorado, Michigan and Massachusetts.

In October 2017, former NBA Commissioner David Stern advocated for more leniency from the league regarding medicinal marijuana. Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns subsequently concurred with Stern's comments.

Silver told Beck the research on marijuana is something the NBA and the NBPA are examining.

"There's not as much, frankly, science out there as I would have thought, in terms of the medical efficacy of using medical marijuana," he said. "I don't mean to suggest that the people who say it's effective for them, that it's not. ... It's like a lot of issues we deal with in the league. It's a balancing of issues."

Silver also discussed the various considerations he's looking at when it comes to marijuana, especially in regard to players' mental health:

"I understand that for some players ... that marijuana is a way of dealing with those issues. It's a question: If we ban marijuana, what they'll then otherwise use? I've had players tell me, 'I don't smoke marijuana ... because you guys drug test and it's banned and I accept that. So instead, I was written a prescription by a team doctor for an anti-anxiety medication, and that medication makes me uncomfortable.' And I recognize that that medication may be worse for the player than smoking marijuana—even if marijuana isn't great for you. And I also recognize that if they don't want anti-anxiety medication and they can't smoke marijuana, they may drink more—which is perfectly legal. ... And that might be much worse for them."

Silver first expressed a willingness to reconsider the NBA's marijuana policy in August 2017, and it's clear he and others inside the league haven't stopped weighing the issue.

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