Sports Leagues Should Go Ahead and Stop Caring About Marijuana Entirely

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The NBA has officially suspended random marijuana testing for the upcoming season, Mark Stein of the New York Times reports. It remains a banned substance per the collective bargaining agreement and testing will still be allowed with "cause."

Momentum is a reliable thing. Eliminating random testing one year makes the likelihood of bringing it back in the future harder. The NBA and other sports leagues shouldn't need another year of society progressing at breakneck speed around them on this issue to understand that they no longer need to be in the business of legislating any recreational use. If they stopped caring about an overwhelmingly harmless and increasingly legal substance enjoyed by adults, they could focus on tackling larger, more important issues. Of which, coming off a pandemic, whenever that is, there will be plenty.

Consider the facts. One in three people in the U.S. live somewhere with legal marijuana. Fifteen states have approved full recreational use and another 36 have paved the way for medicinal purposes. It's almost as if the overwhelming utility it presents for those who need pain relief has not just slowly changed public thinking, but rather eroded a ton of outdated thinking via whitewater torrent.

In fact, just minutes ago, the House of Representatives voted for the first time to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. It's yet another example of just how much things have changed over the past few years.

The NBA is a specifically and uniquely progressive league. Mitigating factors aside, it's sort of jarring that it hasn't been a trailblazer in the laissez-faire approach. It feels like a matter of when, not if. And when that happens, the other leagues will eventually join, even reluctantly. They won't want to exist as this archipelago of outdated moral superiority. So go ahead and pull that ripcord.

Consider also this issue as a unicorn. People from both sides of the aisle have changed their thinking drastically on the marijuana question in a short period of time. It's an outlier but, again, it's an example of the reliability of momentum.

This piece of admittedly anaerobic advocacy can only exist now, in this moment. Because in a few years we'll all look back and have a hard time remembering that this was even a mild debate.