Karl-Anthony Towns: NBA Should Allow Medical Marijuana for Player Treatment

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

If Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns could be NBA commissioner for a day, he knows exactly what he would do with his power: He would allow players to use medical marijuana for injury treatment.

Towns, one of the NBA’s top young stars, spoke out about medical marijuana in an interview with ESPN about his career and the league.

“I agree with David Stern with marijuana,” Towns told ESPN, referring to the former commissioners recent comments on the use of the drug. “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.”

Stern recently came out in favor of the rule change while speaking with former NBA player Al Harrington for a documentary on LeBron James’ Uninterrupted media platform. “I’m now at the point where, personally, I think it probably should be removed from the banned list,” Stern said. “You’ve persuaded me.”

Towns told ESPN that the situation with medical marijuana is a personal one for him, as his girlfriend has an autistic nephew who has used “new treatments involving properties of marijuana” to help with his condition.

Towns said that while he has never smoked or used any type of marijuana product before, he’s seen the results of using marijuana-related treatments. Towns thinks that NBA players could benefit from using them as well.

“I’ve seen nothing but benefits for him,” Towns said of his girlfriend’s nephew. “And I’m very happy that he finds comfort. He finds that normalcy every day. Just like a father, a mother, a parent with a child, you’d do anything for your child. 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 explained that he has not spoken with anyone from the NBA about his opinion or ideas about medical marijuana use, but that he could eventually get in touch with NBA leadership on the subject.

“We have such a great commissioner in Adam Silver who’s willing to listen to opinions and talk to us about how he feels as well,” Towns said. “I think David Stern obviously made an intellectual statement from his experience and just seeing things from a different perspective. 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.”

Towns isn’t the only high-profile figure in the NBA to speak out about medical marijuana use. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told CSN Bay Area last year that he used marijuana multiple times to help his chronic pain after dealing with a back injury.

Currently, the NBA has no plans to address its policies regarding marijuana, although Silver did say ahead of the 2017-18 season that a future change could be possible.

“I would say it’s something we will look at,” Silver said when asked about the future of medical marijuana during a Reddit interview in August. “I’m very interested in the science when it comes to medical marijuana.”

Want to learn more on the subject of medical marijuana? Check out these studies, expert analysis, and stories from Men’s Fitness:


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