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Olympic Cannabis Scandal Shows Progress Still Has Miles Left to Go
July 7, 2024

Olympic Cannabis Scandal Shows Progress Still Has Miles Left to Go

Purple Lotus stands with track star Sha’Carri Richardson and here’s why you should too!

A few days ago, news broke that track sensation Sha’Carri Richardson had been suspended for a month after testing positive for marijuana. As a result of this ban, Richardson’s hopes of competing at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics — where she was projected as a gold-medal favorite in the women’s 100 meters — are now in serious jeopardy.

The situation has also unleashed a public discourse that has subsequently branched-off in several, important directions. To help you get an idea of what’s going on, we’ve put together some of the key information to follow on this matter.

For starters, there are those who ridicule the fact that cannabis is considered akin to a steroid in the eyes of Olympics officials. Comedian Seth Rogen, who also runs a cannabis brand of his own, took to Twitter to share his take:

“The notion that weed is a problematic ‘drug’ is rooted in racism,” Rogen noted in a July 2 post. “It’s insane that Team USA would disqualify one of this country’s most talented athletes over thinking that [is] rooted in hatred. It’s something they should be ashamed of. Also, if weed made you fast, I’d be FloJo.”

Solid punchlines notwithstanding, the idea that cannabis cannot enhance one’s performance isn’t exactly accurate. To learn more on this subject, check out the concept of the flow state, which suggests that the right combination of caffeine, cannabis, and exercise can maximize one’s mental productivity.

Naturally, having a crisp mind doesn’t give you record-breaking speed, so Rogen’s quip comparing himself to the fastest woman of all-time for taking a bunch of bong rips was definitely right on the money.

Following news of the ban, a number of Richardson’s fans, sponsors, and fellow athletes instantly spoke up as well to voice their support for the 21-year-old, who had won the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. track and field trials in Oregon just last month.

Nike confirmed it would not end its contract with Richardson over the issue, while Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Maholmes kept his comments short and simple: “This is so trash man… just let her run!”

The preposterousness of Richardson’s ban even inspired the satirical masterminds over at The Onion to conjure up one their best (NSFW) headlines in recent memory.

Another faction of outrage over Richardson’s ban stems from those who simply believe the Olympics are long overdue for an update to the rules. In a statement, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri highlighted several of the arguments in favor of the Olympics taking an evolved stance on cannabis. 

(What’s NORML? Short for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, this important advocacy institution is the oldest and largest national organization dedicated solely to marijuana law reform.)

“In the past, it has never made too much sense for marijuana use outside of competition to be a disqualifying factor for athletes,” Altieri said. “In 2021, at a time when marijuana use is legally accepted in a growing number of US states and around the world, it makes exactly zero sense for regulators to continue to take punitive actions against athletes like Sha’Carri Richardson or anyone else who chooses to consume cannabis in their off-hours.”

Altieri continued by highlighting Richardson’s publicly given reason for consuming cannabis: its potential therapeutic benefits as a way to cope with grief. In this case, it was the tragic death of Richardson’s mother that led her to seek solace in cannabis.

For Altieri, that context makes this ban all the crueler.

“To use this as a rationale for denying this athlete, who is otherwise competing at the top of her sport, the ability to represent the United States at the Tokyo Olympics should be an unacceptable outcome in this situation,” he concluded. “Let Richardson race.”

If there is any positive outcome to Richardson’s unwarranted ban, comments made by President Joe Biden in the wake of the news suggests that reform of some sort may at last be on the horizon.

On Saturday, in response to a reporter’s question about Richardson’s cannabis-related suspension, President Biden offered the following response:

“The rules are the rules and everybody knows what the rules were going in. Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules.”

In his analysis of these comments, Marijuana Moment’s Tom Angell notes that Biden’s words “could raise questions about whether his administration will use its seat on the WADA Foundation board, on which the U.S. is represented by the acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, to push for reforms.”

As is often the case, it appears that once again is has taken a glaring example of how bad current drug policy remains for meaningful change to become a priority. For track star Sha’Carri Richardson, hopefully this is the last time cannabis is used as a pretext to prevent an athlete from competing for Olympic gold.

In the meantime, Sha’Carri, if you’re reading this, Purple Lotus has you covered on all of your essential training supplies the next time you’re in our neck of the woods.