Thank You, Clifford Robinson! The NBA Great Paved the Way on Cannabis Policy

The cannabis community is on a hot streak. On fire. En fuego. Since November 3rd, Montana, Arizona, New Jersey and South Dakota voted to legalize, Mississippi and South Dakota passed medical measures, support for legalization hit an all-time high, the United Nations moved to reschedule cannabis and the United States House of Representatives passed the MORE Act to end federal cannabis prohibition. In addition to the political victories, the National Basketball Association announced that it would not be testing its players for cannabis during the next 2020-2021 season, a move that might be permanent. In every major political and cultural victory, we stand upon the shoulders of giants. With the NBA’s recent policy change, today’s ballers stand upon the shoulders of a literal giant, the 6′ 10″ Clifford Robinson, the late, great “Original Stretch Four” who had his best seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers.

“Due to the unusual circumstances in conjunction with the pandemic, we have agreed with the NBPA to suspend random testing for marijuana for the 2020-21 season and focus our random testing program on performance-enhancing products and drugs of abuse,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement.

Marijuana Moment noted that there is a lot of movement around making the cannabis testing policy permanent:

Michele Roberts, the head of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) who also joined the board of the major cannabis company Cresco Labs this year, predicted in a recent interview that the formal change could come as early as “next season.”

“We’re not going to expose our players to unnecessary risks,” she told Dowsett in a piece for GQ. “And it is not necessary to know whether our players are positive for marijuana.”

Robinson, known affectionately as Uncle Cliffy during his playing days or Uncle Spliffy during his cannabis activism day, paid the price of the war on cannabis, suffering through unfair arrests and prosecutions, hurting his playing career and corresponding financial opportunities. Better late than never, Cliffy lived long enough to receive a public apology this year from Portland’s mayor for the SWAT-like raid launched against him over a decriminalized, personal amount of cannabis back in 1997.

In recent years, Robinson made it his mission to end cannabis prohibition, doing a lot of work behind the scenes to encourage former athletes to join him in using their platforms to promote positive change. Unfortunately, the former Blazer great passed away from lymphoma before he could see the NBA announce its policy change, but Uncle Cliffy’s legacy lives on. Wherever he is, I know that the Big Fella is flashing that big smile. Please help his legacy live on by fighting for freedom and equality for the cannabis community and if you are able, make a donation in Robinson’s honor to help the fight against cancer.

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