Multiple polls have found that an overwhelming number of National Basketball Association (NBA) fans support ending cannabis prohibition in the NBA. But unfortunately, not all fans agree with that policy change. Some fans still oppose cannabis reform in the league, citing various reasons as to why they feel the way that they do.

One reason that some NBA fans offer up as justification for their opposition to cannabis reform in the league is that ‘the NBA’s cannabis policy is not too harsh’ in their opinion. The Uncle Cliffy team respectfully disagrees. Players that have been recently suspended for cannabis use such as Monta Ellis, Reggie Bullock, Nerlens Noel, and Thabo Sefolosha would likely also disagree.

As the Uncle Cliffy team has pointed out before, when the NBA suspends players for cannabis everyone loses, including the league itself. What drives the NBA’s business model is the games that players compete in. When players are taken out of competition for consuming a plant that is 114 times safer than alcohol, the NBA’s product suffers, in addition to the harm that the suspended players have to endure themselves.

NBA players that are suspended for cannabis use are not just harmed monetarily via the direct lost wages from the games that they were prevented from competing in. The players are also harmed in many other ways that cannabis opponents often try to gloss over:

  • Public shaming
  • Locked out of future coaching opportunities
  • Lost endorsement deals
  • Lost future broadcasting opportunities
  • Less recognition for accomplishments
  • Lower future contracts

The NBA’s current cannabis policy does not include any exceptions for medical cannabis use. As of this blog post, the U.S. Library of Medicine returns 28,501 results for the search term ‘marijuana.’ That is considerably more results than for a search for studies revolving around Tylenol (22,155 studies). Cannabis is medicine. The NBA needs to recognize that fact and have some compassion for its players.

No one is saying that NBA players should be allowed to show up to work under the influence of cannabis. No one is saying that NBA players should be allowed to transport cannabis across state or international borders. No one is saying that NBA players should receive special treatment. What advocates are saying is that the NBA should treat cannabis like it does alcohol and let players consume cannabis responsibly if they choose to do so.

NBA players should be measured by their abilities and moral character, and not measured by the amount of THC metabolites in their system. The NBA is obviously on the wrong side of history with its current cannabis policy. It’s time for that to change. It’s time to free the plant.