The National Basketball Association (NBA) and its players’ union have agreed that players will be tested for performance-enhancing substances but not recreational substances such as cannabis when the 2019-2020 season restarts.
The NBA suspended its season during the coronavirus pandemic and the league and the union are finalizing details of the resumption, including a three-month lockout at Disney World in Florida.
Last Monday, the basketball league also rehabilitated Hornets player Malik Monk, who was suspended indefinitely at the start of the season for violating the NBA’s drug policy.
While the NFL and MLB no longer suspend their players if they use cannabis, cannabis use in the NBA is a regular occurrence. In 2018, Michele Roberts, president of the players’ union, said the league was “exploring” medical exemptions for NBA players to use medical cannabis, but that the federal law was a barrier. At the time, Jeff Sessions was U.S. attorney general and Roberts was concerned that players could be arrested at airports at the request of the prosecutor.
The collective agreement between the NBA and the NBPA states that players testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs will be banned for 25 games on a first violation , 55 games for a second violation, and banned from the league for a minimum of two years for a third violation.
In the case of recreational substances, the penalties to date have been a stage for a first violation, a $25,000 fine for the second, and a 5 game suspension for the third. Any additional infractions add 5 games of suspension to the previous penalty.
Players may be required to take a drug test up to four times per season and twice in the off-season. Testing has been suspended during the lockdown.