Sha'Carri Richardson celebrates winning the Women's 100 Meter.

Sha’Carri Richardson Being Suspended for Marijuana Use, Especially in a State Where It’s Legal, Is Ridiculous

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Sha’Carri Richardson, the fastest woman in America according to the U.S.’s Track and Field contingents, has been suspended for a month after testing positive for marijuana. This suspension endangers her chances of attending the Tokyo Olympics, something that has been a long-time dream of Richardson. And the situation is made absolutely ridiculous when you take into consideration that she tested positive in Oregon, a state that has legalized marijuana use since 2015, with recreational sales beginning in 2017.

According to The New York Times, Richardson’s win in the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. track and field trials has been invalidated by her positive test result, and it seems she won’t be allowed to compete in the event at the Olympics, though her suspension will end just before it begins. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibits “all natural and synthetic cannabinoids aka things like marijuana and hashish.” Why does it do that when plenty of states are legalizing marijuana, not to mention that it’s incredibly hard to believe that marijuana is unfairly boosting anyone’s athletic performance?

Richardson spoke to NBC Today, taking responsibility for her actions, and saying, “I know what I did. I know what I’m supposed to do and am allowed not to do, and I still made that decision. I’m not making an excuse. I’m not looking for any empathy in my case.” And when asked if she’s hopeful that she’ll be allowed to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, she said, “If I’m allowed to receive that blessing, then I’m grateful for it. But if not, right now, I’m really just focused on myself.”

USA Track & Field (USATF), the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running, and race walking in the United States, also released a statement saying, “Sha’Carri Richardson’s situation is incredibly unfortunate and devastating for everyone involved. Athlete health and well-being continue to be one of USATF’s most critical priorities and we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has ample resources to overcome any mental health challenges now and in the future.”

Additionally, Richardson confirmed that her use of marijuana was due to learning that her biological mother had died days before the Olympic trials. “That sent me in a state of mind, in a state of emotional panic, if anything,” she said to NBC. Richardson is a champion for racing with that weighing heavily on her mind in the first place during the women’s 100-meter race. And her use of marijuana, in a state where it is legal, to help with that pain is understood, no matter what the WADA or USATF says about it.

And the internet, Twitter in particular, has her back when it comes to her racing, her talent, the ridiculousness of this situation, and the inherent and systemic racism that is also at the heart of this situation and that of Black and brown bodies being penalized for something that is becoming widely legalized across the United States.

(image: Patrick Smith/Getty)

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Lyra Hale
Lyra (She/Her) is a queer Latinx writer who stans badass women in movies, TV shows, and books. She loves crafting, tostones, and speculating all over queer media. And when not writing she's scrolling through TikTok or rebuilding her book collection.