NBA Stops Drug Tests Amid Coronavirus Shutdown

In an unprecedented halt in the season due to coronavirus, the NBA has also confirmed it will be pausing the use of drug tests.

Just one week ago, the NBA made the dramatic decision to suspend the 2019-2020 season, in line with requests by the CDC that any gatherings of 50 people or more should be postponed or canceled for the next eight weeks

The pause in the NBA season is indefinite and will be continued "until further notice," likely until the COVID-19 crisis is under control. The hiatus also came after news that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result came prior to a game between Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, which led to the game being canceled.

In addition to the season's postponement, the National Basketball Players Association has confirmed that players won't be drug tested during its shutdown. While this may seem like a tacit endorsement of drug use amid the coronavirus hiatus, it's more likely that there are more pressing concerns to the NBA currently, in addition to health concerns surrounding the feasibility of drug testing players during a recommended quarantine.

The shutdown is estimated to last up until June, depending on the length of the coronavirus crisis, though it's unclear if there will be a grace period on drug tests after the announced return. This may pose issues in the case of cannabis, which can stay in the body's system for up to 30 days. If NBA players do partake in cannabis use amid the crisis, they could test positive for the drug upon returning to the season.

Cannabis enthusiasts are hoping that upon return to the season, the NBA will consider changing its tact on cannabis drug testing, as has recently occurred with the NFL, who will be easing their approach to testing players for cannabis use, and the MLB, who removed cannabis from its list of banned substances.

Al Harrington, former professional NBA player who has since gone on to become a cannabis entrepreneur, states that amid his quarantine that "cannabis has been great. Forget good. I mean, it's funny, I'm in Day 5 at home with my kids with this quarantine. If I didn't have cannabis, I'd probably be hanging off my roof right now."

Harrington is one of many athletes who promote the benefits of cannabis and CBD use, particularly as it pertains to athletics and sports. Professional UFC fighter Nate Diaz, along with Professional skateboarder Matt Miller have both started CBD companies targetting their respective sports. Additionally, boxing legend Mike Tyson has recently unveiled his cannabis resort.

Evidently, cannabis and sports are building a strong relationship with one another, as the stigma surrounding the plant wears off and the medicinal benefits to its use become more evident.

While the coronavirus, COVID-19 crisis is a massive disruption not only to professional sports but global activity in general, there is the chance of a silver lining amid the epidemic, which is that such a disruption may prompt sports organizations to rethink their drug policies.

Until then, maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly and minimize travel to non-essential trips to reduce congestion.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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