Advocates and government organizations alike continue to ramp up support of Sha’Carri Richardson, a young Olympic runner who was disqualified from the American team because she tested positive for cannabis in a drug screening.
Not only has Richardson spoken up about the situation openly and took responsibility for breaking the rules, but countless other outlets and social media channels have been abuzz with concern about the archaic drug testing rules. Some of the more shocking reactions includes that of White House Secretary and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) both lightly suggesting that change is necessary.
In an initial press interview on July 2, US Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not condemn the decision of the Olympic officials’ sanction, which penalized Richardson. On July 7, Psaki provided a more sympathetic and open statement that cannabis restrictions require “another look.”
“It does stink,” she told CNN in an interview. “I don’t think there’s a better definition of it. She has lost her mother, she’d gone through a tragedy and she’s also the fastest woman in the world—and I think she’s sending a message to a lot of little girls out there, you can do this,” Psaki said. “We know the rules are where they are, maybe we should take another look at them. We certainly have to respect the role of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Olympic Committee and the decisions they make. But it is sad.”
The USADA Weighs in on the Situation
The USADA issued its own statement regarding the suspension of Richardson. “None of this makes the situation any easier, as the real issue here is trying to find ways to support athletes who find themselves dealing with mental health issues similar to hers, where she decided that the use of marijuana was her only option to deal with her emotional pain even though it could easily put her career at risk,” wrote USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart in a press statement.
“Our hope is that sport and society focus on the core mental health issue going forward, which is how we find ways to help athletes with their pressures and traumas in a way where they do not feel they need to take a risk that may jeopardize their ability to compete and do what they love,” Tygart concluded.
However, prominent cannabis organizations like Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) have released more powerful statements about the tragedy of the situation with Richardson, as well as the injustice perpetuated by cannabis prohibition. “Other sports leagues have removed cannabis restrictions, and it’s time for both WADA and USADA to pull the plant from its list of prohibited substances. Congress has demonstrated support for eliminating the ban, and President Biden should unequivocally support this reform as well. The current policy is indefensible,” wrote MPP Executive Director Steven Hawkins.
Hawkins notes the hypocrisy of it all, pointing out that even the World Anti-Doping Agency’s own medical director, Dr. Alan Vernec, wrote in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine that “There is no evidence for cannabis use as a performance-enhancing drug.”
Richardson Isn’t the Only Olympian Hurt by Draconian Policies
Of course, this isn’t the first time that THC positives have been discovered in Olympic athletes. Earlier this year in April, swimmer Tate Jackson received a one-month suspension for testing positive for THC in a urine test. In June, track and field runner Kahmari Montgomery also received a one-month suspension.
But nothing is more shocking than getting a gold medal taken away from you because of a positive drug test. In 1998, Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati won the gold medal in the giant slalom, only to have it stripped from his possession because he tested positive for THC. “Performance enhancing isn’t necessarily what the word traditionally means,” Rebagliati told NewsNation Now in an interview on July 7.
“Water is performance enhancing. You perform better when you’re hydrated. Cannabis should be promoted as a positive for athletes, as an alternative to pharmaceuticals that are addictive and just mask injuries. Whether its performance enhancing or not, it has no place on the list of banned substances. The IOC really needs to be a leader. Cannabis should be more accepted and used right across the board around the world.”
Rachel Wolfson: Influencer Profiler
Many comedians have worked cannabis into their professional personas—some even make it their entire persona—but few have incorporated it as flawlessly as Rachel Wolfson. While she’s hilarious and not above using the leafy green goodness as a punch line, cannabis also goes much deeper with her. But it wasn’t always this way.
“I was first really introduced to weed when I was 19, because growing up with such a strict family—my parents were politicians and defense attorneys—they used all these scare tactics and said I would literally die if I smoked weed,” Wolfson said. “Then I was living in Vermont, in college, and a boyfriend of mine literally laughed when I told him that. Then I started to realize like, ‘Okay, pretty much everyone knows that no one has ever died from smoking weed.’”
Still, even after wrapping her mind around that realization, there was still subconscious fear and shame around using cannabis. But even that began to lift, as Wolfson researched NORML and cannabis advocacy and realized how much good work there was to do. Now she also uses cannabis for medical purposes in lieu of taking multiple pharmaceuticals. To this day, she is open and honest about using cannabis to help cope with depression and anxiety.
Similarly, it took Wolfson a while to land on her career as a comedian.
“I spent my 20s in and out of working corporate and restaurant jobs,” she explained. “I took marketing gigs on the side, and I just kind of hustled, working wherever I could. Then I started working at a corporate comedy company, and at this point, I taught myself Photoshop so I could gain a new skill to help at my comedy job, and at this point, I was in the marketing side of comedy.”
From there, she started the Wolfie Memes Instagram account, and she realized she could be funny as a meme creator. After that, she wanted to be at the forefront of the comedy scene, not behind the scenes doing marketing. But she was still a little hesitant about jumping into the spotlight.
“With Wolfie Memes, I would get DMs, and people would talk to me as if I’m a dude, like, ‘Yeah, bro,’ implying they thought I was a guy, and I didn’t correct them,” Wolfson said. “And I wasn’t ready to come out of the green closet, per se, because my parents and my family always made it seem like there was a risk, like it could affect their jobs.”
Wolfson on Perseverance
Still, she heard comedy calling, and eventually ended up trying stand-up, where she couldn’t hide the fact that she was a woman or stay in the green closet. But the rush of performing and making people laugh ended up being enough to make her stay in the limelight and gain confidence in her art.
“I had grown a small following, but at that point, I hadn’t gone onstage,” Wolfson explained. “It wasn’t until I started coming into my own, going to open mics and starting my first podcast and then just growing a following and kind of building a name for myself with stand-up, and not just the memes. That’s kind of when everything came together, when I was able to combine all those skills and my story into something I care about.”
Now, even through the COVID pandemic, Wolfson’s been creating. She’s working on a new podcast, looking forward to live comedy coming back and planning to continue to focus on activism as well.
“There’s work that needs to be done, and I’m so aware of that,” she said. “I’m always constantly thinking like, ‘Okay, how can I give back. I want to uplift these voices, and I think, especially in cannabis, they are underrepresented. My advocacy rests within using my humor to spread the message of access, and also uplifting other people by sharing their content.”
It’s also important to Wolfson to provide a space for women in cannabis and comedy.
“I can prove that cannabis humor is funny, and that it doesn’t matter if I’m a guy or a girl,” she said. “Women can be funny; we can smoke weed. We don’t just use cannabis as a fetish. There are a lot of medical reasons why cannabis is important to women specifically, and there are things cannabis treats that men will never go through, like menstruation or having a baby. I want to keep proving that women belong in cannabis and in comedy.”
Read this story originally published in High Times July 2021 Issue in our archive.
Cannabis Cup Oklahoma 2021 Gears Up for Kickoff
High Times is proud to present the Cannabis Cup Oklahoma 2021 competition. Since 1988—the Cannabis Cup tradition has spread from its humble beginnings in Amsterdam to several state-specific contests spread out across the U.S., eventually becoming synonymous with cannabis lore.
It’s our second-ever competition that is open to the Oklahoma public, which means we will see the largest pool of judges in the state’s history. Categories include Best Indica, Sativa and Hybrid; as well as Pre-Rolls and Infused Pre-Rolls; Indica and Sativa Concentrates; Non-Solvent Concentrates; Indica and Sativa Vape Pens; Edibles; Gummies; as well as Topicals + Tinctures + Capsules and Hemp-Derived CBD.
Judge Kits will be available for purchase on a first-come, first-serve basis to all 18+ Medical Patients with a valid Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) card beginning on July 24 at select retail locations across Oklahoma: including Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Stillwater, Edmond, Norman, Nichols Hill and Lawton. No confirmation or approval is needed. See the full list of locations below.
The judging adjourns for a deadline on September 12, and winners will be announced on September 19.
There are a number of factors that make Oklahoma stand out among other states that have enacted medical cannabis laws, and here are a few reasons: A lack of state license caps has made for a rush of businesses unlike any other state. Plus, there are no specific qualifying medical conditions for patients—proving for better access to medical cannabis.
Oklahoma Consumers in the Judge’s Seat
Opening up a Cannabis Cup Judge Kit is an experience like no other, sorting through a magical bag of potent goodies that represent the best that Oklahoma’s burgeoning industry has to offer. This is a sampling dream for hundreds of consumers who want to get the absolute dankest taste of Oklahoma, plus they get to provide feedback on which products and companies will be crowned.
May the best products win!
Each Judge Kit comes with a generous variety of samples from the top competing brands in Oklahoma, all of whom are submitting their finest strains and product varieties to the Cup with the goal that they can receive the highest scores for their products. Every kit is complete with the competition samples and a scorecard that gives each judge an access code to the High Times Judge Portal (CannabisCup.com/Judge). All of it comes contained in a fashionable High Times Judge backpack that you can use for many years to come, following the contest.
If you haven’t been a judge in the past because you were never selected, now is the time to take advantage and get in on the action. Visit CannabisCup.com/Preregister to get all the latest updates.
Locations where kits are sold:
- Cali Roots Oklahoma City – 4327 NW 23rd St., Oklahoma City, OK 73107
- Cali Roots Stillwater – 111 W Elm Ave., Stillwater, OK 74074
- Cali Roots Nichols Hill – 7602 N Western Ave., Nichols Hills, OK 73116
- Cali Roots Norman – 777 S Jenkins Ave., Norman, OK 73069
- Cali Roots Edmond – 1046 E 2nd St., Edmond, OK 73034
- The Greens of Central OKC – 3401 NW 23rd St., OKC 73107
- MedPoint420 – 1204 E Lockheed Dr. Midwest City, OK 73110
- Mango Cannabis Tulsa – 7141 S Mingo Rd., Tulsa, OK 74133
- Mango Cannabis Edmond – 16309 N Santa Fe Ave. Ste. B, Edmond, OK 73013
- Mango Cannabis Norman – 127 W Main St., Norman, OK 73069
- Eufloria – 11730 E 11th St., Tulsa, OK 74128
- Eufloria – 303 N MLK Jr. Blvd., Tulsa, OK 74103
- Eufloria – 406 E Main St., Jinks, OK 74037
- Nature’s Kiss – 9136 S Sheridan Rd STE A, Tulsa, OK 74133
- Freedom Cannabis – 4301 SE 15th St. Ste. D, Del City, OK 73115
- Cookies OKC Expressway: 4041 Northwest Expy, Oklahoma City, OK 73116
- Star Buds – 7959 NW 23rd St. Ste. C, Bethany, OK 73008
- Star Buds – 2629 NW Cache Rd., Lawton, OK 73505
Congressman Speaks Out for Sha’Carri Richardson
Congressman from Tennessee Steven Cohen on Wednesday joined the chorus of condemnation against the decision to ban United States sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson from the Tokyo Olympics after she tested positive for marijuana.
Speaking at a hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Steve Cohen mocked the reasoning offered up for Richardson’s one-month suspension.
“Marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug unless you’re entered in the Coney Island hot dog eating contest on the Fourth of July,” said Congressman Cohen, a Democrat who represents Tennessee’s ninth district. “To take her right to appear, her dream, away from her, is absurd.”
Richardson, 21, is set to miss this summer’s Olympics after a positive marijuana test rendered her results at the U.S. track and field Olympic trials invalid. She won the 100-meter dash at the trials last month in Oregon and was a favorite to win gold in Tokyo.
Marijuana is banned under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances, and both the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee adhere to the global body’s code.
The USADA explains that marijuana is banned because it could pose a health and safety risk to athletes and that cannabis can be performance-enhancing for some.
That latter explanation has been roundly mocked, including by Congressman Cohen on Wednesday. The congressman used his time at the hearing, which dealt with a reform effort to end sentencing disparities between crack and cocaine, to excoriate the War on Drugs and call on fellow members of Congress to deschedule and decriminalize pot.
Congressman Cohen Goes Off on Failed War on Drugs
“Congress should see that we don’t have these problems in the future. We deschedule marijuana. We leave it up to the states. If [Richardson had] gotten rip-roaring drunk on margaritas, Red Bull or whatever else you drink out there these days, lagers, she’d have been fine because it wouldn’t have shown up in her system, and if it had shown up in her system––if she’d have been .02 alcohol––she still would have been allowed to run,” Congressman Cohen said.
“But for marijuana, that could have been 20 days ago, and just a puff or two, she’s gone. So let’s get real. The War on Drugs is a total failure. Nancy Reagan was wrong. Everybody who followed her and the others who said, ‘Just say no,’ were wrong because that wasn’t sufficient. Let’s pass this bill, and let’s decriminalize marijuana, and let’s get our people to where they are not being afflicted by the cultural lag of the United States Congress,” he added
After the positive test result was made public, Richardson appeared on the Today show to apologize to fans and express regret for the decision.
“I want to take responsibility for my actions,” Richardson said. “I know what I did and what I’m not supposed to do. I know what I’m not allowed to do, and I still made that decision. Not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case but being in that position of my life and finding out something like that—something that I would say has impacted my life positively and negatively in my life when it comes to dealing with the relationship with my mother—that definitely was a heavy topic on me.”
At a time when a growing number of states have legalized recreational marijuana use, Richardson’s suspension feels like a relic of a previous era. And legalization looks poised to go federal.
In May, Congressman Cohen’s Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives introduced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act of 2021, which would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis. And last week, Democrats in the Senate introduced their own marijuana reform legislation.
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