NBA player Kevin Durant and Weedmaps announced a new partnership last week that would make the basketball star and the online cannabis market teammates to tackle the lingering stigma against cannabis. Under the multi-year agreement, Durant and its finance company Thirty Five Ventures will work to break down negative stereotypes surrounding cannabis while promoting discussion about the plant’s potential for the well-being and recovery of athletes.
“I think the time has come to address the stigmas surrounding cannabis that still exist in both the sports world and around the world,” Durant told ESPN. “This partnership will help us further normalize these conversations as well as create content, events and much more through our boardroom media network. For us this is just the beginning. “
The deal between Weedmaps and Durant, which reportedly took six months to negotiate, comes at a time when the relationship between athletes and cannabis is under intense scrutiny. Several professional leagues have changed their guidelines on cannabis or testing its use. But the stigma against marijuana continues, as was clearly seen this summer when sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was denied a chance to compete in the Olympics after testing positive for THC in a qualifying meeting.
“It’s no secret that many of the current attitudes toward cannabis are rooted in outdated beliefs and, frankly, lies about the plant that have been perpetuated for decades,” Chris Beals, CEO of Weedmaps, told Marijuana Moment, adding, that the aim of the new effort is to “have a fresh dialogue on how cannabis can be used for the recreation of athletes”.
“Through this partnership, we will seek to further eradicate the stigmas that have made cannabis use so taboo, especially among athletes, while also providing wider education about the plant’s many far-reaching benefits and potential for general wellbeing,” added Beals added.
Durant and Weedmaps deal includes boardroom sponsorship
As part of the strategic partnership, Weedmaps will also sponsor the Boardroom, a media network founded by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman that offers an insight into the sports business. Durant, the Brooklyn Nets striker with two NBA championships under his belt, is a vocal proponent of cannabis and has even invested in the industry. His open support for cannabis is rare for the NBA, which still has rules in the books that mandate four drug tests for cannabis each year. However, that policy was put on hold last year when the league entered a competitive bubble in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the testing break was extended into the 2020-21 season.
“The patch got ripped off in the sports world,” said Durant as he announced the deal with Beals and Kleinman on the Boardroom: Out of Office podcast, adding, “It’s kind of an undercover thing that players consume and use cannabis “. while they are actively playing. “
The NBA’s cannabis ban is still in place, and league and players’ union officials have told ESPN “that there is an ongoing dialogue about marijuana, but no concrete plans to formally change the rule at the moment.”
Cannabis and exercise rules are slowly changing
However, other professional sports leagues have already made changes to their cannabis policies. In 2019, Major League Baseball removed cannabis from the league’s prohibited substances list, allowing players to consume marijuana without fear of reprisals. And last year, the NFL changed its drug use policy, removing suspensions on positive tests for all drugs, including cannabis. For Durant, the changes seem overdue.
“I’ve always found it interesting that the rest of the world is a little slower to talk about cannabis and its use, but if you walk down the street – I live in San Francisco – you go around the corner and there are four or” five pharmacies around them Corner, ”said Durant.
Yet, “Athletes are still being tested for cannabis four times a year, and it just felt like the world was starting to take in people’s opinions about the use of cannabis. he went on.
The deal between Durant and Weedmaps also includes a plan for the online cannabis resource to work with Boardroom to produce original content. As part of Weedmaps’ broader sports and wellness initiative, the partnership with Thirty Five Ventures plans to “further educate consumers about the plant’s potential for wellness and recreation,” according to a statement from Weedmaps on the deal. Former NBA player Matt Barnes, a cannabis aficionado who admits he smoked marijuana during his 14-year career, believes the support of stars like Durant can lead to cannabis acceptance by all athletes.
“There’s a changing culture and it takes a superstar like KD to accept this and help others not be afraid to discuss the benefits,” Barnes said. “It was a process. Meetings with the league and the union have been going on for several years and both sides have hired experts to investigate. That is a big step. “