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WADA Cites Lack of US Support to Remove Marijuana From Banned Substance List

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Cannabis will continue to be prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and it seems that neither the US Anti-Doping Agency nor American authorities have asked for its removal from the Prohibited List as of yet. This comes as a rather strange and controversial standpoint for the US to make when President Joe Biden has been indicating that fresh cannabis measures are needed. The US continues to dance around cannabis issues and chooses to turn a blind eye whenever an opportunity for real change presents itself. 

Controversy Surrounding Cannabis Reform In The US

Despite a loud campaign for change following the Olympics suspension of American runner Sha’Carri Richardson for a positive marijuana test last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) intends to keep cannabis on the list of prohibited drugs for athletes.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) declared that the worldwide regulations must change in the wake of the suspension. President Joe Biden, members of Congress, and the White House all express the view that it is time for new cannabis laws.

However, in spite of these bold statements, according to a WADA spokeswoman, neither the American government nor the American Anti-Doping Agency has asked for cannabis to be taken off the Prohibited List. It seems that the spoken word of US politicians continues to differ from their actions.

Because it does not act as a performance-enhancing drug, the Netherlands had argued for the removal of cannabis from the Prohibited List. However, the absence of a formal request appears to have influenced the proposed 2023 WADA Prohibited List. 

According to the Journal, USADA has long argued for WADA to change its policy on marijuana so that a positive test is not a violation unless it was used intentionally to improve performance or endangers the health or safety of competitors, which again leaves room for confusion when trying to decipher which side of the cannabis reform line the US stands on. 

Controversy Surrounding Cannabis Reform US

Why The Disconnect? 

It’s possible that USADA still wants to leave the possibility of punishing athletes for using cannabis “intentionally” for performance-enhancing purposes, and that could explain the subtle difference in messaging. 

Regarding the apparent discrepancy between what American officials and USADA have said regarding the need for reform and the clearly evident decision not to recommend removing cannabis from the list altogether, Richard Pound, the first president of WADA, said he thinks “some sober second thought possibly went into it.”

However, Pound noted that thousands of Americans are incarcerated for merely using or possessing marijuana, so it is astonishing that officials at the highest echelons of the government were advocating lifting the prohibition entirely on the international athletic arena. “Disappointed but not surprised” sums it up. 

Biden and the US administration had no problem using the Britney Griner scenario for political gain while doing nothing to get people out of jail for cannabis in the US despite campaign promises to do so.

Disconnect USADA American officials WADA’s Prohibited WADA

The Verdict

The final version of the prohibited drugs list for 2023, which was created by WADA’s Prohibited List Expert Advisory Group, is still being considered, according to the organization. While Dutch officials stated unequivocally that they disagree with the decision to continue the prohibition of cannabis, we’ll have to wait and see what the outcome is when the list is finalized. 

WADA first declared in September 2021 that it would examine marijuana’s scientific merits in order to decide whether to maintain the international ban on athletes using the drug. Cannabis does not fit the description of a substance that poses a risk or harm to an athlete that has been scientifically proven, and by asserting that its use in private and outside of competition violates the “spirit of the sport,” the USADA is fostering stereotypes and rhetoric that are fueled by the racist War on Drugs.

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