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The rise and fall of marijuana in sports
Last year, Sha’Carri Richardson’s Olympic dreams were halted when a positive marijuana test resulted in disqualification from the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Richardson stated her use of marijuana was to assist with managing her emotional response to her mother’s unexpected death.1 Without delay, media outlets used Richardson’s story to question the inclusion of testing and the use of marijuana in athletes. Notably, the stimulating and inhibiting actions of some banned substances result in physiological and psychological effects which are purported to affect athletic performance, while the notable short-term effects of marijuana include motor inhibition, transient lowering of heart rate and altered cognition.2 3 In the USA, both medicinal and recreational use of marijuana has increased as 37 states have legalised medical marijuana and 19 states have legalised recreational marijuana. While policies on marijuana use in the general population have changed in some locations, marijuana, or specifically tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) including all natural and synthetic cannabinoids, still appears on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibitive List for athletes, alongside more dangerous substances such as cocaine and heroin.2 Concurrent with legislative changes, many sports organisations have changed their policies on …
Contributors RV and EY collaborated on the drafting and editing of this editorial.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.