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Larry Sanders following 5-game drug policy suspension: ‘I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it’

Apr 5, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

larry sanders AP

Larry Sanders has had a disaster of a season in Milwaukee after signing a contract extension worth $44 million over four years last summer.

There was the bar fight, the in-fighting with teammates, and the citation from the police for cruelty to animals. He’s been ruled out for the season after suffering an eye socket injury, and on Friday, was suspended five games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy — a penalty that only comes after testing positive for marijuana three times.

Sanders wasn’t immediately apologetic following the suspension, and instead used his opportunity speaking to reporters to defend the drug for its medical benefits.

From Steve Aschburner of

“It’s something I feel strongly about, just to let you know something personal about me,” the 6-foot-11 player told and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel prior to the Bucks’ game against Chicago at United Center Friday. “I will deal with the consequences from it. It’s a banned substance in my league. But I believe in marijuana and the medical side of it.

“I know what it is if I’m going to use it. I study it and I know the benefits it has. In a lot of ways we’ve been deprived. You can’t really label it with so many other drugs that people can be addicted to and have so many negative effects on your body and your family and your relationships and impairment. This is not the same thing.” …

“The stigma is that it’s illegal. I hate that,” Sanders said. “Once this becomes legal, this all will go away.”

The problem here isn’t that Sanders is speaking publicly in defense of a drug that is illegal in most states. There’s some truth to what he is saying, and states like Colorado and Washington have legalized it in recent months.

But what the statements do show is that Sanders doesn’t get it.

In his chosen profession, one that pays him many millions of dollars whether he plays or he doesn’t, the drug is not allowed. That’s what Sanders signed up for by pursuing a career in the NBA, and ignoring the clearly-stated rules on the subject due to a personal belief in the drug’s benefits is misguided and selfish.

  1. harshedmellow - Apr 5, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    He’s not wrong. A very benign substance with lots of positives, and given the physical and mental pressures a pro athlete faces, it could be a real life-enhancer for some guys. STRESS is a horrible toxin to the body (speaking loosely there of course) and a benign drug that lowers stress is useful for that reason alone.

    It won’t be illegal much longer, but that doesn’t change reality NOW.

    • cmehustle - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:01 PM

      Choosing between 44 mil and blowing a couple blunts with the fellas, Im going with 44 mil. Matter of fact, I choose my job now over blowing weed with the fellas. So 44 mil, sorry but theres no excuse for that.

      • deavn - Apr 6, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        Sounds like you never smoked a joint.

      • bougin89 - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        No excuse to get caught. Sanders should be smarter than that. Especially after already being caught twice.

      • caliboss - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        wouldn’t work for someone that denied my freedom for all the money in every land, ever….no thanks

    • trevor123698 - Apr 6, 2014 at 2:26 AM

      its not illegal to this day. you can posess any amount you want provided you pay the tax on it

    • j0esixpack - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:06 AM

      While I think Sanders is a fool for jeopardizing a lucrative battle career, he’s right that the NBA needs to revisit this.

      As the medical benefits become more widely accepted, the NBA needs to ask itself which other medicines it will ban, as two states have already legalized. There’s also numerous ways to ingest it without smoking it so let’s not cite concern over player’s lungs

      Then there’s the bans on legal substances like Adderall. Yes it can be abused but plenty of pro athletes legitimately need it. Why not ban chemotherapy as well? And if chemotherapy were banned, would we be outraged over a player who said “screw it, I’m going to have my cancer treated anyways”

      The NBA and other sports are finding the ice growing thin I think. We also know that a guy like Robert Parish smoked throughout his career and he would probably attest that it, along with his martial arts and overall physical fitness, may have helped his career in psychological and physical ways

      Sanders should continue his crusade, but he can do it WITHOUT jeopardizing his contract.

  2. chicagosports2014 - Apr 5, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Blowing urb isn’t worse than squares are for a athlete!

  3. eugenesaxe1 - Apr 5, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Does he have a medical card allowing medicinal use? Does Wisconsin even have a medicinal use policy? If NO and NO, he just made himself look even dumber.

    • muhangis - Apr 6, 2014 at 1:13 AM

      If marijuana helps him medicinally, whether it be back pain, headaches or he has trouble sleeping, etc. and he feels it is very beneficial to him, or even to help him after a long day relax from the toxin of stress (if you wanna do yoga then that your personal choice), than who are some bureaucratic legislators, cops, and attorneys to say that he doesn’t have a right to heal himself in the way he finds effective for himself? I don’t care if he is making $44 M! To some money may rule their world (and is the root of all evil on the side), but Sanders is in defiance of something that he truly feels in his heart is right, and never can we spark change for the better if there is not some defiance involved!

      • eugenesaxe1 - Apr 6, 2014 at 1:27 AM

        1-I’m for complete decriminalization. It’s insane to have legal tobacco/alcohol and label pot in the same category as coke/heroin.
        2-I firmly believe in the medicinal qualities of pot, it helps me sleep and stirs my appetite when my depression goes into overdrive. I also live in a state where it’s not only medicinally legal, but legal period.
        3-Sanders is paid millions annually to NOT SMOKE POT.

    • trevor123698 - Apr 6, 2014 at 2:26 AM

      its not illegal you fool. you can posess any amount you want provided you pay the tax on it

      • eugenesaxe1 - Apr 6, 2014 at 3:50 AM

        You keep saying that, but it’s only decriminalized in 2 states-neither of which is the state of confusion/stupidity you seem to reside in.

  4. chiadam - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:25 PM


  5. kb2408 - Apr 5, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    Marijuana grown these days is not your grandfathers weed. It is much more potent, and, for many, it is addictive. Wake up, people!

    • hannsta - Apr 5, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      The only difference potency makes is having to smoke less. High is still high. You dont OD, you dont get addicted, its a logarithmic curve of increasing laziness.

    • muhangis - Apr 6, 2014 at 1:19 AM

      Like television, playing video games, drinking coffee, chatting, and eating brownies to go fat can be addictive?

      Where is the logic in your argument, that what you said makes it wrong? It’s his personal freedom and choice, and for all I know it’s not affecting your life one bit. So quit being so critical of another on something that you certainly don’t understand… there’s no point to it. Wake up!

    • simoneauchristopher5 - Apr 6, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      Yeah, wake up, have a drink! That’s not addictive or potent and never leads people to do things they never would have done. Get the f**k out of here with your opinions from 1935. Yes, it has gotten stronger- more THC. That’s it. Not a big deal and NOT physically addicting.

  6. rjmarrella - Apr 5, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Except for damaging the lungs and heart, it’s medicinal….

    • muhangis - Apr 6, 2014 at 1:22 AM

      Always easy to contrive something up in your own head and mention it without a bit of proof! So where’s the proof? (link)

      • andreboy1 - Apr 6, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        Actually, Pot has been PROVEN to be just as bad if not worse than tobacco.

        Putting smoke in your lungs is not healthy and any form.

        Next time your around a camp fire why don’t you try and breath in a lung full of smoke if it’s so healthy for you? See how your body reacts to that.

    • muhangis - Apr 6, 2014 at 1:23 AM

      Cause what you mentioned is not even close to being true!

      • andreboy1 - Apr 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM

        Pot smoke damages your lungs just as much as tobacco.

        Smoke is a carcinogen and causes cancer, you do know that right?

        You pot smokers are so delusional about its duality.

        Just keep acting like it’s completely harmless when you pour that smoke in your lungs.

  7. campcouch - Apr 5, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    If folks want to toke,by all means go ahead. I never did and don’t plan on doing it myself,but I have plenty of friends and relatives who did it recreationally and never had issues…except smelling like weed. The NBA is waiting for it to be federally legalized. They probably don’t give two squats about the guy doing it,they worry about if they transport it across state lines or fly with it,what kind of offense is that. NBA players are boneheads and they’d no doubt have a brick on them for road trips. So flying out of Denver with 8 guys holding X amount of weed is a federal offense,and does the league really want to explain why guys were “smuggling” weed aboard a private or chartered plane? It’s a headache they don’t want. When or if it’s regulated nationally,they won’t care. It’ll be looked at like booze then and their policies will change.

  8. titansbro - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    Actually he said he understands it’s against their rules & will deal with the consequences.

    Anyway it’s 2014 people. Wake up. Legalize it man. I’m not even a smoker but it’s so stupid that it’s illegal.

    • trevor123698 - Apr 6, 2014 at 2:27 AM

      its already legal. you have to pay the tax to posess any amount you’d like to

  9. eagles512 - Apr 6, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Just kick this idiot out of basketball

  10. eagles512 - Apr 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    For those who say it’s not addictive, I have 3 friends who prove otherwise. They just sit at home and smoke, calling out of work a lot, never wanting to do anything. Smart guys that have become lazy.

    • sumkat - Apr 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Still not addictive. Just because they want to sit around and smoke pot all day does not make it addictive.

      There is no physical symptoms when you stop (like there is for Cocain or Opiats). Just because you friends are lazy burnouts, does not make pot addictive. Your friends are lazy, period. Hate to break it to you, but everyone that has potential as a child does not fulfill said potential as an adult

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