The basketball world is reacting to Laker star Alex Caruso’s possession arrest in Texas. As the sport that has set the standard for cannabis normalization within the professional sport industry , the NBA community and its fans are not impressed.

The way that Americans as a whole view professional athletes’ use of cannabis has changed a lot over the past decade – just like everything else to do with pot. Ricky Williams was probably the last guy to get it the worst, as angry football fans watched him puff and do yoga outside his tent on the beach instead of crashing through defenses at the goal line. But in the years since, Williams has risen above the negativity and has continued to represent athletes who prefer a wellness alternative to the painkillers that have devastated many of his colleagues in retirement.

NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) Executive Director Erik Altieri weighed in on the public’s perception of Caruso’s arrest compared to perceptions of years past.

“Over 70 percent of all Americans, including 60 percent of Texans, support ending our embarrassing and disastrous criminalization of marijuana,” Altieri told L.A. Weekly, “Arresting a high profile athlete like Alex Caruso for simple possession is only going to further galvanize that support. Who exactly was served by putting Caruso in handcuffs for a bit of marijuana? What community was made safer by this? His status as a sports celebrity and the coverage that will result from this arrest will only highlight the absurdity of continuing to arrest otherwise law-abiding citizens for a plant when half of the country lives somewhere it is completely legal.”

Some on social media were particularly peeved to hear what was happening to Caruso as they watched Seth Rogen and Conan O’Brien burn one down during Conan’s farewell from late-night tour last night before his HBO move.

For a bunch of freedom lovers, the pace of marijuana reform in Texas has been bitterly slow. Part of it is the state’s unique status as a major port of entry for all drugs since smugglers were moved off the water to overland routes by the DEA and Coast Guard getting access to satellite imaging in the late 1980s and 90s. Just as cartels battled for control of Juarez, they did the same across the border in El Paso. So, outside of the inner cities of America’s famous population centers, it’s important to remember Texas was one of the places the drug war was fought the hardest. This mindset that comes from living in that reality takes a lot more convincing that the biggest impact marijuana can have on someone’s life is most likely a conviction from it.

The Texas Tribune reported the Texas Department of Public Safety’s 2019 data showed more than 45,000 arrests for possession of marijuana, this was down from almost 63,000 in 2018. But most of those people don’t have the support structure of an NBA athlete. Caruso’s job just stopped drug testing for weed and he uses his skills on the court in the largest cannabis marketplace in the world. Those with cannabis possession convictions likely see things like employment or housing opportunities impacted. That in turn will trickle down to the rest of their family. All over a victimless crime.

Two years ago, the effort to decriminalize cannabis in Texas was derailed by the Lieutenant Governor. This year’s effort already passed the Texas House of Representatives by a 2-to-1 margin in April. Until that’s successful, possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, which can be punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Social media was quick to give its take on the situation. Lebron James provided us with one of the funniest back and forths of the night on the subject of Caruso’s arrest.

 

 

 

LA Weekly