Jay Williams thinks the NBA needs to get with the times when it comes to marijuana, and allow players to use it without punishment.
The former Chicago Bulls guard-turned NBA analyst told FOXBusiness.com that 75 to 80 percent of players use the drug, which he believes is much safer than the narcotic painkillers that many athletes are prescribed.
"It’s easy for doctors to prescribe you Oxycontin and look I was addicted to it for five plus years so I know," Williams said via FOXBusiness.com. "But when you say marijuana you get a reaction, ‘ahhh, it’s a gateway drug.’ "
While 23 states have legalized medicinal marijuana, the drug is still prohibited by the NBA. The league’s anti-drug agreement states that players are subject to four random drug screenings per season, without prior notice.
"You see pictures of guys in California going in and getting their medical marijuana cards. And I’m not just saying athletes, let’s talk about society. I know a lot of people that use it. It’s something that the whole world is becoming more progressive with. So it’s about time some of these entities do as well," Williams said.
Williams was the second overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the 2002 NBA Draft.
Under the NBA’s current policy, players who test positive for marijuana are required to enter the league’s Marijuana Program. For second-time offenses, players are required to pay a $25,000 fine, with third-time offenses resulting in a five-game suspension.
Williams points out that the effects of narcotic pain killers are much more dangerous than marijuana, however, cannabis still has a negative stigma attached to it.
"I know so many athletes that play on Percocet. Have you ever taken Percocet by the way? It makes you way more groggy than rubbing cannabis oil into your skin," added Williams. "It’s demonized in society too. ‘Oh, he’s a pot head.’ No, I actually just use cannabis oil because it helps with inflammation and takes away some anxiety.
"When you talk about guys playing at a professional level, there’s a lot of physical and mental stress that comes with that,” he said." To have something available to you that has health benefits, I don’t see the issue with it myself.”
Williams believes that the professional sports leagues don’t permit marijuana use because they’re overly concerned about public perception. He said it’s still "taboo" because league officials worry that the drug would have a negative impact on their images.
"I’m not condoning for anyone under 18 to use cannabis or marijuana, but from a medical perspective, it’s about time some of these brands like the NBA and MLB become a little bit more progressive and start thinking forward instead of being held captive in the past."