Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has a big stage and some weighty opinions. Put the two together and it can be pretty thought-provoking.
On Wednesday, Towns’ 22nd birthday, ESPN reported Towns’ support for recent comments by former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who said that, as more states legalize both medicinal and recreational marijuana, the league should remove it from its list of banned substances.
Towns said he doesn’t smoke nor drink. He has never used marijuana. But he said he has seen the positive effect medicinal marijuana has had.
“I thought it was something that needed to be said,’’ Towns said Wednesday after the team’s morning shootaround at Target Center. “Because there is a bad stigma when it comes to marijuana. Obviously, in the right context, in the right form, it’s been beneficial for people.’’
Towns went to great lengths in the Q&A to stress that his purpose is to make it more possible for people — and league players — to be able to achieve medical benefits.
“Just because we’re NBA athletes, we’re not super humans,’’ Towns said in the article. “Some of us have conditions that could use [medical marijuana] to our benefit for everyday living.’’
Towns has clearly put a lot of thought into this. He works with autistic kids back home in New Jersey. His girlfriend, he said, has an autistic nephew. Towns’ mother is a nurse. Towns has read articles, said he has examined research, talked with his mom. That, coupled with his own experiences, has led him to his conclusions.
“I don’t ever say anything without thinking about what I said,’’ he noted.
And he has the stage.
“Karl, he’s got a lot of different interests,’’ Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And I think it says a lot about who he is as a person. In terms of helping people, and people that are suffering, I know that’s the type of person he is. He’s an open-minded person, he’s got great curiosity in a lot of different things. Very thoughtful. So, it was his opinion, it was honest, and I don’t have a problem with it.’’
For that, Towns is grateful.
“I’m very blessed to be in the NBA, where I’m given a chance to have a platform to speak about what I want to speak about,’’ he said. “And have the full support of the NBA and [current commissioner] Adam Silver. That’s a huge honor. Whenever I come to the media, I always speak my mind. And I’m always truthful. I never come up here and lie to you. I tell you how I feel. And If I’m thinking about something, then I say it.’’
Here are excerpts of the ESPN interview:
“I agree with David Stern with marijuana. … You could use the [chemical] properties in it to make a lot of people better. That’s something that [commissioner] Adam Silver has to do. That’s out of my control, but maybe legalizing marijuana. Not fully legal where people are chimneys but using [marijuana] as a beneficial factor as an athlete, as a person living daily. I think a lot of times fans forget that sometimes there may be some things that are banned that may not be the greatest for playing basketball, but for everyday living off the court, sometimes those things that are legal could help us.
“I’ve never smoked, I’ve never taken a strand, I’ve never taken properties of it, whatever the case may be. But I deal with kids all the time at autistic schools, Reed Academy in New Jersey. My girlfriend has an autistic nephew, and you realize those properties of marijuana can do a lot of good for kids and for adults. These guys, just because we’re NBA athletes, we’re not super humans. Some of us have conditions that could use [medicinal marijuana] to our benefit for everyday living, just taking care of our kids and our families.
“Just because we’re NBA athletes, we’re not super humans. Some of us have conditions that could use [medical marijuana] to our benefit for everyday living, just taking care of our kids and our families.
“I think in the right context it would be beneficial. Obviously, everything in moderation. We don’t have a Tylenol bottle and take six of them. You take what’s directed to help you feel better. We have an amazing drug program for our questions, and we have great backing by the association who does so much research, and they do so much great work with that. Whether it’s not legal, whether it’s legal, they always do a great job of making sure that they give the players every chance to be healthy.
“I think it’s about keeping an open mind. You have to understand what the use is for. Obviously recreational use, that’s something more of a personal hobby. But legalization of medical marijuana has helped millions of people’s lives. I know people who have had very bad arthritis and feel much better about daily movement, be able to be with their grandchildren to a better extent.
“There’s a difference between recreational and medicinal. A Vicodin or Percocet is very, very addicting. And it’s a drug, but used in the right context it can truly help people who are in a tremendous amount of pain. With the right moderation and reasoning for it, it’s very beneficial.”