The NBA and NFL are the only two major American professional sports leagues that test for weed. With more states legalizing cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use in, two NBA coaches have weighed in on both sides of the argument.
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr recently admitted during an interview on the “Warriors Inside Podcast” that he used a marijuana product to help with his chronic back pain recently. He feels the NBA needs to step into 2016 and look at the benefits of weed.
“I guess maybe I can even get in some trouble for this, but I’ve actually tried it twice during the last year and a half, when I’ve been going through this chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with,” Kerr said Friday on The Warriors Insider Podcast.
“(After) a lot of research, a lot of advice from people and I have no idea if maybe I would have failed a drug test. I don’t even know if I’m subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA.”
Kerr went more into detail.
“There’s this perception in our country that over-the-counter drugs are fine, but pot is bad,” Kerr said, explaining that some folks continue to resist the notion that pot is somehow more treacherous than, say, alcohol, while others have studied the subject and become advocates.”
Draymond Green agreed with his coach.
“I’ve never been a guy who has done it, period. So, I can’t say that I know much about it, but from what I hear from whether it’s football guys, I think a lot of them do it because of all the pain that they go through.
“And when you read Steve’s comments, it makes a lot of sense. When you look at something that comes from the earth, any vegetable that comes from the earth, they encourage you to eat it. So, I guess it does make a little sense as opposed to giving someone a manufactured pill. If something takes your pain away like some of these pills do, it can’t be that good for you.”
But one of Kerr’s players disagree’s with Kerr’s position… slightly. Klay Thompson said pain management should be explored but recreational use shouldn’t happen.
“But not recreation use,” Klay Thompson said. “That should not be of its use ever, but there’s obviously a medicinal side to [marijuana] that people are finding out have benefits, especially people in really high pain.”
Klay was arrested in 2011 while still in college for having weed in his car during a traffic stop.
Former NBA player and current Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson takes it a step further. He feels Kerr might be sending the wrong message.
“I think our rhetoric on it has to be very careful because you have a lot of kids where I’m from that’s reading this, and they think [marijuana use is] cool. It’s not cool. Where I’m from, you don’t get six fouls to foul out. You get three strikes. One strike leads to another. I’m just being honest with you, so you have to be very careful with your rhetoric.”
Watson grew up in Kansas City where violence and drug use took down many friends. He believes weed is a gateway drug.
“I think it would have to come from a physician — not a coach,” Watson said. “And for me, I’ve lived in that other life [of crime and drugs]. I’m from that area, so I’ve seen a lot of guys go through that experience of using it and doing other things with that were both illegal. And a lot of those times, those guys never make it to the NBA, they never make it to college, and somehow it leads to something else, and they never make it past 18.
“So when we really talk about it and we open up that, I call it that slippery slope. We have to be very careful on the rhetoric and how we speak on it and how we express it and explain it to the youth.”
I understand Earl’s concerns, but Kerr is basing his information on medical information. Also, the legalization of marijuana ensures that young people – especially those of color – won’t be caught up in the legal system behind it.