Steve Kerr: Marijuana ‘a Much Better Option’ Than Some Painkillers

Steve Kerr
Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is never worried about sharing his opinion on anything. The subject of medical marijuana is no different.

“I’m a proponent of it,” Kerr told The Mercury News on Tuesday after Warriors practice. “I do feel strongly that [marijuana] is a much better option than some of the prescription drugs, and I know that it’s helping a lot of people, which is great.”

In 2016, Kerr admitted he’d used marijuana to help manage chronic pain after a 2015 back surgery. California legalized recreational marijuana use on January 1.

Kerr has said that while marijuana ultimately did not help him manage the pain from his back surgery, he still supports the use of marijuana for medical treatment over prescribing opioids or other pankillers to players.

“I’m not a pot person; it doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr told CSN Bay Area in December 2016. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s vitamin C, like it’s no big deal.”

Kerr isn’t the only high-profile NBA figure to support legal medical marijuana use. Former NBA commissioner David Stern and current Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns have both publicly supported legal medical marijuana.

Stern, who previously tightened the NBA rules on marijuana, admitted in October that he had changed his thoughts on the subject, saying that cannabis “probably should be removed from the banned list” at some point. Stern cited the current perception of marijuana in the U.S. and a CNN series on medical marijuana as his main reasons for changing his mind.

“I think all of the leagues are now appropriately focused on player training, structuring of the right parts of their body, player rehabilitation in the case of injury, player nutrition, player this, player that,” Stern said in a conversation with former NBA star Al Harrington for a documentary about marijuana use. “This should be a part of that conversation. Can you imagine if we could create a situation where every superstar was able to play one additional year?”

In November, Towns said he agreed with Stern, basing his options in part on seeing the success his girlfriend’s autistic nephew had using “new treatments involving properties of marijuana” to help with his medical issues. While Towns said he never used marijuana himself, he thinks that the league should allow players to use it if they choose.

“You don’t have to actually make it ‘Mary J’ [or] ‘Half Baked,'” Towns told ESPN. “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.”

The NBA has said it has no plans to change its marijuana rules, but current NBA commissioner Adam Silver hinted that it could be a possibility in the future.

“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.”

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