CBD, MMJ, and the NBA

Al Harrington played 16 seasons with the NBA, but now he’s all about cannabis. The star player estimates that 70% of NBA players, coaches, and owners smoke marijuana, but he maintains he was among the 30% that didn’t – until his botched knee surgery. A friend recommended he try CBD in place of the myriad pills he’d been prescribed for the pain. The relief was instant. Harrington hasn’t touched a painkiller since he discovered CBD.

In fact, he became so enamored with the healing possibilities of marijuana that he invested heavily in his cousin’s cannabis enterprise. They named the venture Viola Extracts, after Harrington’s grandmother who found great relief from glaucoma with CBDs.

Now Harrington would like to see changes in the NBA’s policy toward cannabis – especially when it comes to medical marijuana. To that end, he sat down with former NBA commissioner David Stern, who ran the league for 30 years and was known to be quite the prohibitionist. Harrington’s goal was to see if Stern was at least open to having a conversation about separating marijuana from other drugs when it comes to the NBA banned list.

Stern quickly admits that the perception of cannabis is “completely different” than when he was commissioner in the 80s and 90s. “Myself,” Stern said, “I’ve been influenced by CNN.” He says Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentaries on cannabis changed his mind, and there’s “universal agreement” that marijuana for medical purposes should be legal.

As for injured NBA players, Stern says CBD should “be a part of the conversation” about cutting edge sports medicine. When Harrington asks Stern why he thinks there’s been a lack of major studies on the efficacy of CBDs, Stern’s answer is frank. “The reason there’s no pressure to do this,” he said, “is that big pharmaceutical companies have not figured out a way to make money yet on this.”

Should players who live in states that have legalized recreational cannabis be allowed to consume? Harrington asks Stern, who pauses in thought before answering. “But you may be violating the collective bargaining agreement, right? I think we’ve got to change the collective bargaining agreement. You should be allowed to do what’s legal in your state.”

At the end of their conversation, the two men were in agreement. “It should be taken off the banned list,” Stern said. How to get fans to agree? Simple, Stern says.” If you tell the fans that if a player rubs it on his knees he won’t have to take the night off, that would really send it over the top.”