Are NBA Players Allowed to Smoke Weed?


Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Given the fact that NBA players are elite athletes, it comes as a no brainer that they will be tested for drugs. However, given the increasing possibility that marijuana (known as weed) will be legalized and in some states already is already used for medicinal purposes, it makes you ask the question are NBA players allowed to smoke weed?

Are NBA players allowed to smoke weed? No, under the NBA drugs policy and through the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and NBA players the rules stipulate that NBA players are not allowed to smoke weed.

However, there is more to the answer than a simple no. We have looked at the rules in the NBA and highlighted the sanctions for smoking weed in the NBA. We have also pulled a list together of all the players who have been caught with weed in their system and found players who have admitted to smoking during their career. Finally, we took a look at NBA players views on smoking weed.

What are the NBA Rules on Smoking Weed?

The NBA rules are very clear, NBA players re not allowed to smoke weed. The NBA rules state that NBA players will be randomly drug tested from zero to four times a year and only at practices or games. However, players aren’t drug tested on the off-season.

If a player is found to have taken weed then they are required to attend a Marijuana Program. If a NBA player enters the program voluntarily then the NBA will not impose any penalty against the said player.

What happens if a NBA player is found to have Smoked Weed?

If an NBA player is drug tested and found to have weed in their system then there is a course of action that the NBA can take. If this is a NBA’s player first time being reprimanded then a player has to attend an anti drugs course which is supported by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association.

If a player is caught for a second time they receive a $25,000 fine. In both cases the player is suspended for five games for violating the drug policy. The fine will increase for repeat offenders.

Have any NBA players been tested positive for weed?

Originally, NBA players were only drug tested at the start of the season. However, rules were brought in whereby NBA players were drug tested randomly. A number of players have been caught through these drug tests for smoking weed.

NBA player Charles Oakley estimated that 60% of NBA players were using the drug [weed].

Lewis, Jonothan and Jennifer M Proffitt. “Bong Hits and Water Bottles: An Analysis of News Coverage of Athletes and Marijuana Use.” Journal of Sports Media, vol. 7 no. 1, 2012, p. 1-21. Project MUSEdoi:10.1353/jsm.2012.0009.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement which is signed between the National Basketball Players Association and the NBA sets out the terms of the suspensions from the NBA, if a player is found to have weed in their system. There are a four steps of discplianry that a NBA player will receive, which relate to the number of times that a player has been caught with weed in their system:

  1. For the first such violation, the player shall be required to enter the Marijuana Program;
  2. For the second such violation, the player shall be fined $25,000 and, if the player is not then subject to in-patient or aftercare treatment in the Marijuana Program, be required to enter the Marijuana Program;
  3. For the third such violation, the player shall be suspended for five (5) games and, if the player is not then subject to in-patient or aftercare treatment in the Marijuana Program, be required to enter the Marijuana Program; and
  4. For any subsequent violation, the player shall be suspended for five (5) games longer than his immediately-preceding suspension for violating the Marijuana Program and, if the player is not then subject to in-patient or aftercare treatment in the Marijuana Program, be required to enter the Marijuana Program.

Below is a list of NBA suspensions issued to NBA players for smoking weed. Only one of these suspensions highlights the smoking of weed as the reason for the ban. However, through searching newspaper articles, it is apparent that a five game suspension for a first weed offence is the normal ban by the NBA. Bans for drugs, such as steroids, are clearly highlighted here and game suspension and fines are much more severe.

YearNBA PlayerSuspension
1995 Richard Dumas A season
2000Jason Williams5 Games
2001Lamar Odom5 Games
2001Isaiah Rider5 Games
2001Lamar Odom8 Games
2001Maurice Taylor5 Games
2002Shawn Kemp5 Games
2003Shawn KempBanned for three days
2003Maurice Taylor10 Games
2004Christian Lattner5 Games
2004Qyntel Woods5 Games
2005Clifford Robinson5 Games
2006Maurice Taylor5 Games
2007Eddie Griffin5 Games
2008David Harrison5 Games
2008Brad Miller5 Games
2008Ricky Davis5 Games
2008Brandon Rush5 Games
2013Terrel Haris5 Games
2013J R Smith5 Games
2014Arnett Moultrie 5 Games
2014Larry Sanders5 Games
2014J J Hickson5 Games
2015Larry Sanders10 Games
2015Al Jefferson5 Games
2016Mitch McGary5 Games
2016Mitch McGary10 Games
2017Reggie Bullock5 Games
2017Monta Ellis5 Games
2018Thabo Sefolosha 5 Games
2018Nerlens Noel5 Games

Can NBA players smoke weed in the off season?

NBA players do not get drug tested in the off season. However, weed can stay in a players system from 10 to 30 days dependent on a players size. If a player doesn’t make the playoffs then they would be able to smoke weed for the first two months of the off season. The other NBA players who did make the playoffs would only be able to smoke weed for the first month off the season. Given the size of the contracts that the players receive not smoking weed would be a small sacrifice to make.

Have any NBA players admitted to smoking weed ?

Yes, a number of retired players have said that they used to smoke weed as a come down after a game. Stephen Jackson believes that weed should be taken off the NBA banned substances list, Jackson stated:

They won’t let it be legal until they control it. I smoked my whole career, hell of a career. I didn’t miss no games……I am not going to say it helped me, but after the games coming down and relaxing, yeah it helped. Nobody can play high, especially in the NBA. It’s a high level of competition and guys are great so nobody can play high.

Stephen Jackson, former Indiana Pacers

But Stephen Jackson is not the only NBA player who feels that weed should be taken off the NBA banned substances list. Matt Barnes, who won an NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors ,said he has smoked weed his whole basketball career. He would go to the gym and shoot around in the morning, come home for some lunch, smoke some weed, nap, wake up and shower and then go and play a game. He said it didn’t impact his performance.

The Bleacher Report even ran an interview with ex NBA players who support weed being taken off the banned substance list in the NBA. The interview consisted of Cuttino Mobley, Matt Barnes, Al Harrington and Kenyon Martin who all talk about their experiences of smoking weed whilst in the NBA.

What are NBA Players thoughts on Smoking Weed?

A lot of players and coaches are advocates of marijuana being allowed in the NBA. Currently, NHL and NFL players are not drug tested for weed and there are arguments that this should be the same for NBA players particularly as 28 states in the United States have legalized weed. Phil Jackson who has coached some of the greatest players in the NBA supports the legalization of weed within the NBA. This was his response when he was asked the question.

There is continued support from players and coaches on weed being allowed to be smoked by NBA players. Steve Kerr supports the idea of his players being able to smoke weed and he went on a podcast and supported the idea of weed being legalised by the league.

Although there is some support for the legalization of weed within the NBA there is also strong opposition. Steven A Smith who is a sports personality strongly rejects opinions that weed should be legalized in the NBA. The jury is still out on what the NBA will do however, any decision will not be with out supporters of opponents.

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James

A basketball court was built in my local park and at 15 years of age I fell in love with basketball. A late joiner to the game, I have played every season since. Some Indiana friends bought me some Pacers gear for my 17th birthday, and I have supported them ever since (who wants to follow the crowd). I love American sports apparel and the presentation of sports, they do it so well (bar all the advert breaks).

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