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When NBA power forward Kevin Durant gets high, he does candid interviews with television icons and talks about his relationship with marijuana and the general stigmatization of cannabis. When David Letterman smokes weed, apparently he gets, well, a little introspective.
“My experience with it was that I lived in California, and I was much younger and everybody was doing it. It was in the late 70s, early 80s,” Letterman told Durant when the two recently spoke for his Netflix special, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. “I can remember going to a Yankees-Angels game. And my girlfriend and I smoked a joint before the game…and I kept thinking, ‘Wow, that guy is standing on a mound of dirt. Whoa, it’s actually a mound of dirt.’”
Kevin Durant and Weedmaps
In the interview, which airs fully on May 20, Durant discusses his personal use — “actually, I’m high right now,” he said — and partnership with cannabis technology giant Weedmaps to help destigmatize marijuana, especially how athletes use and benefit from it.
“I thought it was always interesting that the rest of the world was a little slower to be open about cannabis and its use, but to see, walking down the street—I live in San Francisco—you walk around the corner, there’s four or five dispensaries right on the corner,” he told Marijuana Moment last year. And yet “athletes are still being tested four times a year for cannabis, and it just felt like the world was starting to close in on how people felt about the use of cannabis, and now it’s an open dialogue and it’s been amazing to hear.”
Professional sports and cannabis
Durant openly discussing his cannabis use, not to mention being high while doing it, has been making some waves this week. He’s considered one of the greatest players of all time, a Hall of Fame shoe-in, and yet he’s been smoking weed since he was 22. The NBA policy, however, is that it’s a banned substance. Now 33, a voice like Durant’s normalizing cannabis and athletes is a big win.
More and more professional athletes are coming out as advocates for the plant, its healing properties, and also jumping into the business, including Dwayne Wade, Al Harrington, and Isiah Thomas among many others.
However it still seems one-sided, bowing more towards men’s sports versus women’s. Track star Sha’Carri Richardson was banned from competing in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 because she tested positive for marijuana. Richardson didn’t use the plant to run better, she simply wanted to calm her anxiety about the death of her mother.
More recently, one of the WNBA’s best players, Brittney Griner, was arrested and is still detained in Russia for allegedly having a vape pen in her suitcase. The WNBA, NBA, and U.S. officials have all denounced the arrest and see it more as a political play as the Russian war on Ukraine wages on. As of May, she has been to court once with her detention extended. She could face up to 10 years in Russian prison if found guilty.
While cannabis use is technically banned, the NBA said last year that it wouldn’t penalize any player if marijuana was detected in drug tests.