It’s been said, more times than not, that the majority of NBA players smoke weed on the reg. However, what hasn’t necessarily been said, is why said players tend to take to the herb.
Mental health awareness has become more and more prevalent in the NBA, thanks to players like DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love, who’ve shared some of their own trials and tribulations with the league and its fans. Another former player —Larry Sanders, has also opened up about his own mental health issues over the years. Sanders, who is no longer in the league, was subject to several marijuana-related suspensions during his playing days, admits there was an underlying reason for his weed-usage.
And that the league itself is partially at fault.
Larry Sanders On Why He Chose Weed Over Prescription Drugs
In an extensive piece by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen, several players opened up about mental illness, and the effect it has on their professional lives. Sanders, who last played for the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2017, says that the league, by and large, doesn’t take into account the underlying reason some of its players choose to smoke weed, despite the fact that it remains on the league’s banned substance list.
According to Sanders, the issue isn’t so black and white.
“There’s still a lot of chastising by the NBA for the byproduct instead of digging in and looking for a cause,” Sanders said to MacMullen. “Everyone says the game is 90 percent mental, but we’re not catering to in that sense.”
Instead of going the route of traditional prescription medication, Sanders chose the route of natural self-medicating. The former Milwaukee Bucks power forward says he began to use cannabis to treat his anxiety, depression and other related mood disorders.
“What the NBA is afraid of is a player saying, ‘Oh, I’m depressed,’ and they just want to smoke weed. That’s the league’s biggest nightmare,” he contends. “There were a lot of medications they wanted me to take that I refused to be on. My personal stance was to smoke marijuana. I had no interest in their drugs.”
Sanders now remains out of the league, despite his forthcoming nature regarding his own cannabis use. However, one cannot put a price on a healthy mind.
Will The League Make A Change?
Unfortunately for players like Sanders, who are forced to trade in a lucrative playing career for their own mental health, the league still remains behind the eight-ball in terms of marijuana use.
However, we might soon be seeing a monumental shift in league policy.
For starters, there have been plenty of former players that have clamored for the herb to be legalized in the sport. Ex-NBAers like Matt Barnes, Al Harrington, and John Salley have all been vocal about their support for a ‘greener’ NBA.
Even former commissioner David Stern, who was notoriously anti-drug, almost to a fault, during his tenure as an NBA figurehead, now believes marijuana should be removed from the banned substance list.
Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver has hinted that he could re-think the league’s policy on weed. One potential solution could be to simply legalize CBD for medical purposes—something Ice Cube’s Big3 league has already done. The non-psychoactive medication could provide the perfect win-win situation for players and the league.
But until then, it looks like players will continue to struggle with their own personal demons, rather than get the treatment they deserve.