NBA Perspectives on Cannabis

In late February 2020, the Oakland Hills basketball community had reason to celebrate. An exciting conversation had begun on a new facet of their sport: the NBA's evolving stance on cannabis use. The NBA, with its traditionally strict policies on marijuana, seemed to be opening up to more progressive perspectives, sparking a dynamic discourse among both players and fans.

The sudden shift was initially met with some skepticism, with many viewing the new guidelines as onerous. However, those willing to embrace change found the process quite straightforward. The tickets, fixed at a standard price of $200, were made available exclusively online to prevent any on-site sales. This digital approach facilitated effective crowd management and allowed for a comprehensive attendee screening process. The strict security protocols, which prohibited personal vehicles, cellphones, and other potentially suspicious items, ensured the event's safety. As an additional logistical measure, attendees were instructed to convene at a central location in Oakland Hills, where they were picked up by a fleet of Mercedes Benz vans for transportation to the event.

The Event's Motive

While attendees were aware of the gathering's primary topic, the extent of the screening procedures took many by surprise. The event's host was none other than the retired coach and NBA player, Brian Shaw, known for his advocacy of various forms of cannabis. Shaw openly credits his life achievements to his use of marijuana, stating, "Marijuana makes my life comfortable."

The event invitation package was meticulously prepared, with comprehensive information on various topics, including the endorsement of cannabis use by former NBA stars. Images of Joe Montana, the celebrated Hall of Fame quarterback, and David Stern, the former NBA commissioner, were prominently featured, displaying their support for the exploration of cannabis's potential health benefits in the NBA.

Event attendees were treated to a gastronomic spectacle, courtesy of Nikki Shaw and renowned local chef Nikki Steward. An eight-course meal was meticulously crafted with some of the finest ingredients. Exquisite dishes, including chicken potpies, braised lamb shanks, a variety of vegetables, and lobster cheese, left the attendees in awe. The food was served by semi-nude women, adding to the novelty of the occasion.

A Night to Remember

Marketed as ‘A Culinary Experience that Stretches Your Perspective & Your Palate,’ the event lived up to and exceeded its promise. The evening featured live music performances, a DJ playing eclectic tunes, and a variety of cannabis-infused cocktails. Additionally, a wide range of local and imported wines were available to the attendees. To enhance the relaxation experience, special massage tables were stationed near the swimming pool, offering the attendees an opportunity for a soothing massage. Stations were also set up for the uninitiated to learn about the use of terpenes, a component of cannabis. Various cannabis-infused products were showcased, allowing attendees to explore their effects under the watchful eyes of several federal agents who ensured that the event's security was maintained.

Although the event was held under the NBA banner, the invitation was exclusive to retired NBA players and coaches. Brian Shaw emphasized the NBA's policy prohibiting active players from using marijuana, asserting, "It would be an act of irresponsibility on my part to have current NBA players attend this party."

For Brian Shaw and his wife Nikki, the event was a proud moment. Hosting over 250 former NBA players, coaches, and fans at their hilltop home was a dream come true. Seeing their guests, who Shaw affectionately referred to as 'family,' enjoy various forms of cannabis was a sight that brought immense joy to the Shaws.

As of the event date, 46 states had legalized cannabis use, although the specific regulations vary from state to state. The four remaining states, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Idaho, showed no signs of amending their stance on cannabis legalization.


Is cannabis use permitted in the NBA?

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the NBA does not approve of cannabis use. It remains on the list of prohibited substances.

What are the NBA's rules regarding cannabis use?

The NBA has historically been stringent about substance use, implementing disciplinary measures such as suspensions, fines, or other penalties for players found to have used cannabis. Despite this, certain individuals, like Al Harrington and Brian Shaw, advocate for a more lenient stance. They argue that the NBA should reconsider its position and remove cannabis from its list of banned substances.

Which NBA players advocate for cannabis use?

Several NBA players, including Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant and Dion Waiters, are vocal advocates for cannabis use. They liken cannabis to coffee, a beverage consumed by many NBA players. Durant and Waiters estimate that over 50% of NBA players use some form of cannabis.

Does the NBA test for cannabis?

Yes, the NBA began testing for cannabis in 1999 during David Stern's tenure. This policy change was a response to complaints about players performing under the influence of cannabis.

How long does cannabis stay in an athlete's system?

The duration that cannabis remains detectable in an athlete's system can range from 10 to 30 days. Factors such as the frequency of consumption, the form and dosage of cannabis used, and the athlete's body weight influence this timeframe. Any active player found to have used cannabis can face various punishments, as outlined in the NBA's cannabis policy.