Phil Jackson says he smoked marijuana as a distraction while recovering from back surgery

By SI Wire
December 07, 2016

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson said that he used marijuana to treat his back pain during his playing days with the New York Knicks.

Jackson discussed the use of marijuana as a pain reliever on CBS Sports Network's "We Need to Talk".

Jackson had back surgery during the 1969–70 campaign and missed the entire season because of the injury.

"I don't know about it's medicinal ability," Jackson said. "I had back surgery, and the year I was off, I was smoking marijuana during that period of time. I think it was a distraction for me as much as a pain reliever. But I've never thought of it as ultimately a pain medication for that type of situation. I know ocular things, stomach, digestive issues and other things, I think it is regarded quite highly.

The talk of marijuana and pain relief was highlighted recently by Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who said he used marijuana for his chronic back pain.

Kerr said that the drug did not help with his back pain, but also said he does not believe players should be disciplined for using marijuana as a pain reliever.

Jackson said the league has tried to stop marijuana use, but must decide how to accommodate its use or figure out how players can use it without punishment.

"We're in a situation that's in flux," Jackson said. "We have states—Washington, D.C., Colorado—have legalized marijuana. Those are going to raise issues. We also have a testing regimen that we go through in the NBA, so we're kind of in conflict with what is going to be the law. I see that as a matter of a decision that—I don't know if we can equate it to gay marriage or whatever else, but it's a decision that's going to be made by our population at some point."

– Scooby Axson

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