Due to the “unusual circumstances” of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA said it will focus its random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse rather than marijuana during the 2020-21 season. The league also didn’t test for marijuana during the Orlando bubble.
Despite the testing arrangement, marijuana and its byproducts remain banned substances in the NBA. That hasn’t stopped big stars from aligning with cannabis and CBD brands: Kevin Durant’s VC firm took part in a $35 million Series B round for startup Dutchie in August and Klay Thompson recently became the first active NBA player to endorse a CBD company.
The NBA isn’t the only league updating its drug policies.
- MLB: In late 2019, MLB became the first major American professional league to remove natural cannabinoids from its list of “drugs of abuse.” In the wake of pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ death, the league did start testing for cocaine and opioids.
- NHL: If a player tests positive for abnormally high amounts of THC, doctors can suggest an individualized treatment plan through the league and the NHLPA’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.
- NFL: In March, the league significantly raised the threshold for positive marijuana tests, and changed testing windows so that players can use the substance in the offseason.
Of the 123 teams across the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL, over 100 play in states or provinces where either medical or recreational marijuana use is currently legal.