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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 NBA.com:

“It’s something I feel strongly about, just to let you know something personal about me,” the 6-foot-11 player told NBA.com 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.

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