The World Anti-Doping Agency is set to keep cannabis on its list of prohibited substances for 2023, despite friction over American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s suspension last year. This decision means athletes subject to WADA’s drug testing code will continue to be suspended if they test positive for marijuana during competition and it also highlights tensions surrounding a drug that some countries have allowed their citizens to use legally without recourse. The pros and cons are disputed among many sports scientists and it looks like we are going to see how this plays out.
Richardson used marijuana to help with anxiety caused by the death of her biological mother while she performed at the Olympic trials in Oregon where cannabis is legal for both medical and recreational use. Her response to the death was that it was “definitely nerve-shocking” and was the reason she used the drug to cope with her unfortunate loss.
Marijuana is currently classified as a “substance of abuse” by WADA. This means that athletes who test positive for marijuana can be subject to penalties, including bans from competition. In recent years, there has been growing pressure on WADA to remove marijuana from the list, as more and more countries move to legalize the drug either medically or recreationally.
Medical marijuana is currently legalized in 38 states across America along with four US territories, but it still remains prohibited under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules as they don’t consider cannabis an “exempt regenerated substance.” The review came at the urging of U.S officials including USDA agent Sam J Bear who has pushed hard for this change since being appointed by President Obama back when he took office; however there are strong indications that we’ll see restrictions remain largely intact for the 2023 season because WADA Prohibited List Expert Advisory Group looks like they will be backing a ban on ALL cannabinoids.
The World Anti-Doping Agency decision is imminent to confirm the list of banned substances on September 23rd and they should be published on or before October 1, 2022 and implemented as of January 1st, 2023. Dutch authorities have already raised concerns about cannabis and CBD products.
In 2021, USADA CEO Travis Tygart argued that “rules concerning marijuana must change ” after having signed his letter addressed directly to politicians across America.
USADA has been advocating for a change in the WADA banned list since they unsuccessfully tried to get cannabis removed as an option back when the US anti-doping agency was calling out athletes who used drugs like marijuana and hashish. “For almost 10 years, we’ve argued with them about how people can still use these substances without being guilty of anything,” says Tygart.
The U.S. government was widely expected to support WADA’s proposal to remove marijuana from the list. However, in a surprise move, they declined to do so. In a statement, a representative said that it “does not believe that there is a consensus among WADA member nations” on the issue of allowing marijuana consumption for athletes.
WADA did not give a specific reason for its decision to keep marijuana on the banned substance list. Sources close to the situation revealed that this is because the United States did not support its removal. This is despite the fact that numerous studies have shown that marijuana can be effective in treating a variety of chronic medical conditions, including pain, inflammation, anxiety and even studies have shown that states that allow medical cannabis have seen a reduction in opioid prescriptions. Another clear benefit of cannabis legalization.
The WADA’s decision to keep marijuana on the list of banned substances is a setback for those who hoped that the plant would be recognized for its potential medical benefits. It is important to remember that this decision is not permanent and could be reversed in the future if more evidence emerges in support of marijuana’s efficacy as a medicine.
The WADA’s controversial decision to keep marijuana on its list of banned substances is extremely disappointing, but it is not permanent. There is still hope that this therapeutic plant will be removed from the list in the future and eventually recognized federally as a medicine and adopted for its medical benefits. In the meantime, patients with chronic medical conditions should continue to advocate for their right to use marijuana as a medicine.
Only time will tell how this decision will affect athletes and others who use marijuana around the world. This is a time where the power and voices of the people of the United States and throughout the world will need to continue their persistentence on the need for change.