In the NBA, you need to fail three drug tests to get suspended for smoking weed. You get secretly hustled into the league's Marijunana Program after one violation, a secret $10,000 fine for failed test No. 2 and the public suspension for failed test No. 3.
Larry Sanders got suspended for five games on Friday. Given that he's injured and had already been ruled out for the season, he'll be serving that penalty at the beginning of next season. When most players get suspended for weed, they vaguely apologize or stay quiet. Larry Sanders is not most players. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
"In a lot of ways we've been deprived. You can't really label it with so many other drugs that people can be addicted to and have so many negative effects on your body and your family and your relationships and impairment. This is not the same thing.
"The stigma is that it's illegal. I hate that. Once this becomes legal, this all will go away. But I understand for my work it's a banned substance. I will deal with the consequences and I apologize again to my fans for that."
Larry Sanders thinks marijuana should be legal to possess and use, as it currently is in Washington and Colorado. Most Americans agree with Larry Sanders.
[F]or the first time, a clear majority of Americans (58%) say the drug should be legalized. This is in sharp contrast to the time Gallup first asked the question in 1969, when only 12% favored legalization.
Sanders' generation approves legalization by a 67-31 margin. Full-blown national legalization seems like a foregone conclusion. It'll be interesting to see whether Sanders' union has any interest in speeding up the process in the NBA by pushing back against the current penalty system, especially given that one team (the Nuggets) is based in a state where there are no criminal penalties for possession. Other states may soon follow.
The NBA wants stronger testing for human growth hormone. Perhaps the union's bargaining chip is lower -- or no -- penalties for marijuana use.
Regardless, the practice of suspending weed-smoking players who are already on the shelf due to a nasty injury is kind of crazy, and a practice we'll consider bizarre when we look back upon these times in the future.