President Joe Biden’s opinion on the month-long suspension of American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson for marijuana use was similar to hers and correct to the extent possible. “Rules are rules”, saying Saturday, and “everyone knows what the rules are.”
Biden added that “whether that should remain the rule is a different matter.” But as the collapse of marijuana prohibition continues apace in the United States, that problem is inevitable: Now that 44 percent of Americans live in states that treat marijuana as alcohol, the lingering distinction between these two intoxicants makes less sense than ever.
Richardson, who tested positive for an inactive THC metabolite during U.S. Olympic team testing on June 19, saying He used marijuana in Oregon, where voters approved legalization in 2014 after learning of the death of his biological mother. Had he reacted with a drink or two, that choice would have had no impact on his athletic career.
But under the World Anti-Doping Code 2021, which is enforced by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), THC is considered a “substance of abuse”, so designated because “it is frequently abused in society outside the context of sport.” Although the same could obviously be said for alcohol, that drug is not considered a “substance of abuse.”
Contrary to intuition, Richardson’s offense had nothing to do with “doping”, as is commonly understood by USADA. grant that his marijuana use “was not related to athletic performance.” His positive test result also does not indicate that he was under the influence of marijuana during the competition, since the THC metabolite cited by USADA can be detected in the urine of a cannabis user during days or weeks after the last dose.
However, Richardson’s cannabis use had serious consequences. That canceled her first place in the 100-meter events, making her ineligible for that event at this summer’s Olympics, where she had a good chance of winning a gold medal.
The 21-year-old rider responded to this crushing disappointment with remarkable grace. “As much as I am disappointed, I know that when I get on the track I not only represent myself, I represent a community that has shown great support, great love,” she said. saying on NBC Today Show. “I apologize for the fact that I did not know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time.”
USADA saying Richardson’s suspension was reduced from three months to one “because his cannabis use occurred out of competition and was not related to athletic performance, and because he successfully completed a counseling program on his cannabis use.” The idea that Richardson needed “counseling” because of her perfectly understandable response to her mother’s death, as if that decision revealed her to be a budding drug addict, is irrational and more than a little insulting.
Other athletic organizations have recognized that arbitrary rules like those of the USADA can no longer be justified (if they ever could). In 2019 the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball stopped testing marijuana players.
Companies are also adapting to the new reality of widely legal cannabis. Last month, Amazon, the nation’s second-largest private employer, Announced that it would no longer screen job applicants for marijuana and instead treat cannabis use “the same as alcohol use.”
The Biden administration initially indicated that it would also take a more tolerant approach, saying in February that it would allow people with a “limited” history of marijuana use, a description that encompasses at least half of American adults – to work in the Executive Office of the President. A month later, however, The daily beast reported that “dozens of young White House employees have been suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use.”
Repealing the federal marijuana ban would greatly simplify decisions like these. But given that Biden opposes that change and Democratic lawmakers who favor legalization aren’t making a serious effort to attract Republican support, it seems unlikely that will happen anytime soon.
© Copyright 2021 by Creators Syndicate Inc.