Bill Walton criticizes NCAA marijuana rules during ESPN2 broadcast

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Bill Walton makes pro-marijuana argument during ESPN2 broadcast
Thursday February 5th, 2015

Bill Walton criticized NCAA rules and national laws regarding marijuana use during an ESPN2 broadcast of the basketball game between the Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks on Wednesday night.

Walton's comments centered on the recent dismissal of Washington sophomore center Robert Upshaw. Upshaw was dismissed for a violation of team rules, but had failed drug tests earlier in his time at Washington.

During the broadcast, Walton urged the NCAA to modernize its rules on marijuana use and called on President Obama to address inconsistencies in the nation's drug laws.

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"You know how I talk every week and complain the NCAA not modernizing the rules? That’s another rule they’ve got to modernize. This whole War on Drugs has been an absolute failure across the board."

"Somebody’s gotta step forward and we’re looking for Obama to step up and say ‘Why are we punishing people for things that are legal?’ ‘Why are people languishing in jail for things that are legal?’ Look at the front page of Register-Guard right here in Eugene today, addressing that same exact point,” said Walton.

His partner in the booth, Dave Pasch, countered that the reason for Upshaw's dismissal was not announced, and could have been due to another kind of violation.

“Well you’re assuming," added Pasch. "We don’t know what Upshaw – what violation of team rules he committed. You’re assuming that he committed a violation for marijuana, that’s not what Lorenzo Romar has said."

Upshaw transferred to Washington in 2013 after being dismissed from Fresno State. He reportedly failed drug tests at both schools.

Walton, a No. 1 overall selection in the 1974 NBA draft and 1978 league MVP, has made less serious comments about marijuana use during past broadcasts.

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Washington is 14-8 overall this season and 3-7 in the Pac-12. The Huskies are currently 11th in the conference, one spot out of last place.

- Christopher Woody

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