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Cannabis & Sha’carri Richardson

How can you not love 5’-1” Sha’Carri Richardson? She's the super Black athlete with the outrageous name, orange hair, tattooes up and down her muscular arms. Her use of marijuana seems to have eliminated her from this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Richardson has been suspended from competition for a month.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)—which regulates drug use in global sports—bans all “all natural and synthetic cannabinoids.” That includes weed. And that’s dumb. U.S. Anti-Doping CEO Travis Tygart says, “The rules are clear, but this is heartbreaking.” Indeed it is.

Sha'Carri Richardson

Richardson is one of the fastest humans on the planet. In June 2021, she ran the 100 meters in 10.86 second. That’s tops.

At 21, her career is just beginning. Her big mouth shows no signs of going quiet. “I am it,” she says. “I am who I say I am,” and “Talent is talent. If you got it you go fast.” Richardson also says she’s sorry, though for what isn’t clear. 

“I apologize for the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions or deal with my emotions during that time,” she says.

She explains that she used marijuana to deal with her mother's death. That news hit her hard, plus she says she was stressed about the competition for the Olympics. 

I say the anti-doping officials should give Richardson a pass. After all, weed isn’t heroin, steroids or cocaine. According to sport experts, marijuana can relax an athlete and improve performance.

I also say let all the sprinters smoke weed, get loose and run fast. On social media, many fans of the Olympics are behind Richardson. Actress Patricia Arquette says, “This is ridiculous. What are they thinking.” Another fan says, “She should get extra points for winning while on the weed.”

Here’s my all time favorite comment from Richardson: “This is the last time the Olympics don’t see Sha’Carri Richardson. This is the last time the U.S. doesn’t come home with the gold in the 100 meters.”

Perhaps Richardson runs fast and talks wild because she grew up poor in Texas. She played some basketball and football in school, but by the age of nine she knew she wanted to be a sprinter and win medals. She has exceeded her wildest dreams.

Track aficionados have told her to cut her hair, cut her nails and get rid of her eyelashes because they slow her down. Richardson is Richardson, from her size eight shoes to her long bright orange hair.

Along with Muhammad Ali, she’s the greatest. I’ll tie her shoe laces, bring her water, clock her as she runs the 100 meters and point out once again the absurdity of the laws against marijuana.

(Jonah Raskin is the author of Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War.)

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