Medicinal marijuana should be permissible for professional athletes — it’s relatively easy to make the case for legal recreational usage, too — but it’s obviously not like the ban on weed really serves as a be-all, end-all deterrent.
LaMarcus Aldridge of the Blazers appeared on Jim Rome’s Showtime program last week, and Rome tried to bait the Blazers forward into a bloggable soundbite by asking what percentage of NBA players would fail a drug test if they were surprised with it tomorrow morning. “Zero percent,” Aldridge quipped.
As great as it would be for all pro sports leagues to eradicate their weed bans, that doesn’t appear imminent. In the short-term, while they’re scared of PR consequences, perhaps the best route for the NFL and NBA to follow is the MLB’s. This would entail continuing to say that pot is banned, but not actually enforcing it. As ESPN’s Shaun Assael noted earlier this month, nobody on a 40-man roster has been punished for it in the past 10 years.
In the draconian NFL, Brandon Browner remains suspended through the end of next season for testing positive for weed. He landed in the highest level of the league’s substance program for missing a drug test when he wasn’t even employed by an NFL team. These punitive measures aren’t sensible.
The NHL, meanwhile, tests for PEDs, but doesn’t punish for recreational usage. That’s probably ideal, but it’ll almost certainly be at least a couple of years until the other leagues join them on that.
Update: As a reader points out, MLB’s comparative progressivism doesn’t extend to the Minor Leagues.
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