Last week, the World Anti-Doping Agency announced that cannabis would remain on its list of banned substances for international athletes. This comes after a scientific review conducted by the agency and a subsequent discussion found that the use of marijuana violated the spirit of sport.
Whether a particular drug should be banned is dependent on whether the substance meets at least two out of the three criteria the organization uses in its evaluation. One of those is criteria is violating the spirit of sport. The agency also considers whether a substance represents a health risk to the athlete and whether it has the potential to improve an athlete’s performance.
In 2021, advocates urged the organization to enact a reform after Sha’Carri Richardson of the U.S. Olympic team was suspended from taking part in an Olympics event because of a positive THC test. THC is one of the primary psychoactive compounds found in marijuana, the other being CBD. Unlike CBD, however, THC causes individuals to get high.
In response, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conducted a review of marijuana as a performance-enhancing drug. Despite this, the executive committee made the decision to uphold the drug’s prohibition.
In a press release, Olivier Niggli, the agency’s director general, stated that the question of how THC needed to be dealt with in a sports context wasn’t straightforward. Niggli continued that WADA was aware of the diversity of perceptions and opinions associated with marijuana globally as well as within various nations.
He then explained that the agency was also mindful that the requests asking for THC to be removed from the list of prohibited drugs wasn’t supported by the review conducted by experts; he noted that WADA was also conscious that the laws of most countries, as well as broad global regulatory policies and laws, supported leaving marijuana on the list.
After Richardson was suspended, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a statement regarding how international rules of cannabis needed to change. This sentiment was echoed by congressional leaders and President Joseph Biden, who signaled that the time for new policies had come.
Despite all these calls for reform, the WADA noted that the executive committee decided against changing its course. It was first reported that the agency intended to keep the ban on marijuana in place a few weeks ago. However, it hadn’t been confirmed until now.
Niggli added that the organization remained focused on conducting research in the area, particularly in relation to THC’s performance-enhancing effects.
This announcement is sure to be disappointing to athletes who had planned on using state-legal marijuana provided by companies such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) for medicinal or recreational purposes.
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