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Latest News, NBA / Apr 5, 2014 / 6:17 pm

Larry Sanders Suspended 5 Games, But Says “I Believe In Marijuana”

Larry Sanders, James Harden

Larry Sanders, James Harden (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

Bucks center Larry Sanders was apologetic after the NBA handed down a five-game suspension following his use of cannabis, which is expressly forbidden by the NBPA’s (National Basketball Players Association) drug program. But the 6-11 Sanders defended his use of marijuana in an interview before Milwaukee’s Friday night game at the United Center in Chicago.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel‘s Charles F. Gardner reports:

“It’s something I feel strongly about, just to let you know something personal about me,” Sanders said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel and nba.com. “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. Once this becomes legal, this all will go away. But I understand for my work it’s a banned substance. I will deal with the consequences and I apologize again to my fans for that.”

During the 2012 elections, Washington and Colorado legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. 20 states have passed measures legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, and 13 more have pending legislation to that affect. Attorney General Eric Holder recently said the Obama Administration would be willing to look at re-classifying marijuana with the support of Congress by taking it off the schedule 1 list the federal government references as the most harmful and addictive drugs.

But Sanders is right that it’s still illegal in 48 states, and it’s a banned substance according to the agreed upon stipulations of the NBA and NBPA. J.R. Smith and the 76ers’ Arnett Moultrie are the two most recent players that have been suspended for violating the league’s list of banned drugs.

Sanders has been out since James Harden elbowed his right eye and he suffered right orbital fractures on Feb. 8. The injury required surgery and it’s unclear at present whether Sanders’ suspension will take affect this season. Sanders has to be deemed eligible to play for the a game to count towards the suspension, so it’s unclear if he’ll be available in time, or sit out the required five games next season.

“Larry Sanders has a responsibility to every person in our organization and our fans,” the Bucks said in the press release. “We are all disappointed by the news of his suspension.”

Despite his remarks surrounding marijuana use, Sanders was contrite about the suspension, saying in a release, “I take full responsibility for my actions.”

In 23 games this season, Sanders was averaging 7.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks in 25.4 minutes of action per game. He missed time earlier in the year after getting involved in a nightclub fight. After a big 2012-13 season where Sanders became a huge defensive presence in the paint for the Bucks, he was awarded a four-year, $44 million contract extension this past summer. The new contract kicks in next year.

(Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

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