Former NBA Commissioner David Stern made news late last month when he said the NBA should remove marijuana from its banned substance use. That stance was a change in how Stern perceived marijuana, particularly as a form of medical treatment for some conditions.
Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, in an interview with ESPN.com's Nick Friedell, says he believes the NBA should allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes in the NBA. Towns, who says he has never smoked the drug himself, often works with those suffering from autism and has seen how it can help that condition. In the interview ESPN.com, Towns notes that marijuana could also be beneficial for some lingering health issues NBA players can face:
"I agree with David Stern with marijuana," Towns told ESPN. "You don't have to actually make it 'Mary J' [or] 'Half Baked.' You don't have to do it like that, but you could use the [chemical] properties in it to make a lot of people better.
"That's something that Adam Silver has to do. That's out of my control, but maybe legalizing marijuana. Not fully legal, where people are chimneys, but using [marijuana] as a beneficial factor as an athlete, as a person living daily."
Towns, who says he has done some research on the benefits of medicinal marijuana, says the topic is talked about around the league.
"I think it's discussed," Towns said. "But I look at it from my experience with it. I've never smoked. I've never taken a strand. I've never taken properties of it, whatever the case may be. But I deal with kids all the time at autistic schools, Reed Academy in New Jersey. My girlfriend has an autistic nephew, and you realize those properties of marijuana can do a lot of good for kids and for adults.
"These guys, just because we're NBA athletes, we're not superhumans. Some of us have conditions that could use [medicinal marijuana] to our benefit for everyday living, just taking care of our kids and our families."
Towns also said he hasn't spoken with anyone about within the league about his stance on medical marijuana, but did not rule out doing so in the future.
"The NBA has done a great job of just really cracking down on things that should not be legal. Not only legal as a performance enhancing, or whatever case it may be, but just for daily living to have a better life, a more sustainable life, a more healthy life by removing those drugs from the game."
Stern sat down with former player Al Harrington, who played 16 years in the league and has since become an advocate and entrepeneur in the medical marijuana business, in a recent documentary on UNINTERRUPTED. Harrington talked to Stern about his tenure as commissioner, his handling of the drug's use among players and how his perception has changed.
Stern said in the interview that sports leagues could play a vital role -- working with players' associations -- in pushing for better understanding of cannabis' medical benefits.
In a statement last month, NBA spokesman Mike Bass says the league's position remains unchanged.
"While Commissioner Silver has said that we are interested in better understanding the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana, our position remains unchanged regarding the use by current NBA players of marijuana for recreational purposes."