To the dismay of Reefer Madness prohibitionists, the cannabis legalization movement got an unexpected boost by the outrage following Sha’Carri Richardson’s positive drug test that nixed her 2021 Olympic dream. As most folks know by now, the fastest woman in the United States, one of the best sprinters in the world, won’t be able to compete in this year’s Olympics even though she earned her way with a first place finish at the 100 meters in the Olympics Trials.
Whether reasonable folks were sympathetic to the fact that Richardson used cannabis legally under Oregon state law after learning of the death of her mother or that they understand that cannabis isn’t a performance-enhancing drug, folks proclaiming that the “rules are the rules” have been significantly outnumbered and outgunned. It’s just extremely difficult for anyone to effectively argue that Richardson shouldn’t be able to represent the United States, especially with her plight getting publicized over the Fourth of July weekend, when Americans are celebrating the Land of the Free.
Justin Singer, CEO of Ripple, a Colorado cannabis company, wrote in The Washington Post:
“But Richardson did nothing immoral. She didn’t cheat; she deserved to win, and she did. According to USADA’s rules, she didn’t even use a performance-enhancing substance. She also did nothing irresponsible: She managed herself through a time of extreme stress and sudden anxiety using a product that was legal for her to purchase and consume in the state where she used it. Indeed, she managed herself so effectively that she won her event and established herself as America’s next track star.
“So if Richardson did nothing immoral or irresponsible, why is she being punished? If marijuana is neither performance-enhancing nor illegal, why is the USADA even testing for it? As ever, the answer comes down to money and incentives. The USADA needs federal money to survive, and the federal government needs the organizations it funds or transacts with to treat marijuana as the dangerous, medically useless Schedule I narcotic our laws insist it to be. Social equity is great for stump speeches, but social sanction remains the law of the land. The center cannot hold.”
The outrage over Richardson’s Olympic team dismissal even reached the president of the United States, who, as Marijuana Moment noted, signaled that the rules could very well change, while stating the tired “rules are rules” line, added: “Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue.”
As I blogged previously, the sports world, including huge stars like NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes, NBA All Star Damian Lillard and soccer legend Megan Rapinoe, all demonstrated support for Richardson. Former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL rushing champion Ricky Williams expressed his hope to CNN that the sprinter joins him as an activist, stating, “I went from just being an athlete to being an advocate, and I think this is an opportunity for a young athlete to realize sports is a platform. She has a perfect opportunity with so many people in the world having this conversation. So I think she should be proud of herself.”
The cannabis community has been racking up victory after victory at the ballot box and in legislative chambers since Washington and Colorado first legalized back in 2012. We have overwhelming public support on our side and this latest injustice levied against an innocent person that happens to be one of the most exceptional athletes in the world has just added more fuel to the fire. While it is tragic that Sha’Carri Richardson’s Olympic dream has been snuffed out by the racist and classist War on Cannabis, the support that she has garnered has turned into a nightmare for those wishing hold onto our nation’s Reefer Madness nonsense.
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