NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley fielded several questions upon landing in Chicago for NBA All Star Weekend, including whether or not NBA players should be permitted to use medical marijuana. Barkley, who says he has smoked pot a handful of times, isn’t personally a fan of the plant but has grown to accept the healing qualities that it possesses.
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Says Barkley (H/T USA Today):
“I’m not a pot guy. I’ve had pot like five times, and it just makes me want potato chips. But I got to be progressive. Listen, if you’re using pot to heal your body and things like that, I guess I can accept it. But I don’t want guys smoking pot just because they like smoking pot. I don’t think you can compare basketball to football. But I know it’s been helpful to my football friends. But if you’re going to use cannabis — I must be getting old, I’m saying cannabis. If you’re going to smoke weed or pot, it better be for the right reasons. Don’t just do it because you’re a druggie. I’m very sensitive to the subject. I had a brother who died young who was a junkie. Drugs are a real serious issue to me. But I have to be open-minded. If you’re going to use drugs for the right reasons, fine. But I don’t want to give people carte blanche to use.”
Although the Round Mound of Rebound isn’t likely to lead any pro-marijuana rallies, there are a number of former NBA players and coaches who have been preaching the benefits of medical marijuana. Among them, Hall of Fame coach Don Nelson, who currently grows his own strains and is an advocate for it’s use amongst athletes, and non-athletes alike. Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington and the late commissioner David Stern have also preached the need to remove marijuana from the league’s list of banned substances, although it doesn’t seem that the NBA is too eager to make any changes at this time.