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David Stern doubles down on stance against NBA’s marijuana ban

Former NBA commissioner David Stern has doubled down on his previously stated belief that the league should reconsider its marijuana ban, arguing in part that it opens the door to potential abuse of opioids by players.

Speaking with CNBC Wednesday at the SeventySix Capital Sports Innovation Conference in Philadelphia, Stern stated that the NBA should revisit the marijuana ban issue when negotiating the league’s next collective bargaining agreement with players.

Stern believes the time is right for reconsideration of the marijuana ban, arguing the NBA’s position on the issue is outdated.

“I think it’s time to take a whole new look at it,” Stern said.

The former NBA commissioner, who presided over one of the most expansive, successful and profitable eras in league history, cited the opioid epidemic as a compelling reason to consider lifting the league’s bans on THC and CBD, the main compounds in marijuana that clinical studies suggest can be used to treat pain and anxiety, along with other ailments.

“In many cases in sports,” Stern said, “the opioid crisis begins with players being prescribed pills for their pain, and if there is another substance, whether it be CBD or THC that eases pain, then I’m all for it.”

Stern’s views on marijuana clearly have evolved since stepping down as commissioner in 2014 after early 30 years as the league’s top executive. Interestingly, his successor, Adam Silver, whose views are not yet as progressive as those now held by Stern on this matter, is nevertheless amenable to further examination of the topic.

Last year, Silver laid out how he believes the NBA can approach resolving the marijuana ban issue in a methodical and pragmatic manner.