Aug 11, 2016 9:20 AM

Can Olympic Athletes Use Marijuana?

While countless agencies around the world look for the way to properly test drivers for marijuana impairment, the Olympics seem to have it under control.

The World Anti-Doping Agency is an entity that controls marijuana use among Olympic sportsmen. In 2013, the WADA made some changes in their drug testing process. According to the rules, the Olympic contenders cannot use marijuana during the competition. However, the WADA could not care less if the athletes consumed weed outside of the competition.

For the sake of consistency, the Agency increased the threshold of their test as well. The accepted level was increased by ten times—from 15 nanograms per milliliter, the positive level went to 150 ng/ml. This decision was directed at the elimination of the cases when an athlete consumed cannabis weeks before the event. This threshold allows the Agency to concentrate on the people who have been using marijuana right before or during the competition.

New Runner's High: Can Weed Make You Better Athlete?
New Runner's High: Can Weed Make You Better Athlete?
In the case of weed, there is plenty of scientific evidence of the potent medicinal properties of this plant: it relieves pain and stress, improves focus, accelerates metabolism, relaxes muscles, and so on.

For example, during the London games, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency conducted tests on nearly 2,800 participants, and only four of them showed positive results.

According to the WADA authorities, many cases are not connected with the in-game use of weed. The new threshold is meant to show more accurate results and not involve the use of the substance outside of the competition. If a person consumed marijuana weeks before the games, the Olympics have nothing to say about it.

Like many people that endure intense physical activities on a daily basis, athletes use marijuana as a pain reliever and a mean of relaxation. Some worldwide known Olympic champions admit to using weed at least once in the past, and the truthful revelation seems to do them no harm.

Unfortunately, the change did not come in time for such athletes as Ross Rebagliati who suffered from the "secondhand smoke" results before the implementation of the new rule. The Canadian athlete got his gold medal suspended because his results showed a 17.8 ng/ml cannabis content. Today, the number is very low to be considered a reason for annulling the competition results. However, you may say that this case is a bright example of making lemonade when life gives you lemons—today, Ross is the owner of his own marijuana products company that bears the name Ross' Gold.
Surprisingly, the main reason, aside from the initial illegality, for cannabis to be included in the list of banned substances is the violation of the spirit of sports.

Now, when cannabis is becoming more and more popular, and the process of medical marijuana legalization is kicking into gear, the Agency has to seriously reconsider the impact that positive results will have on athletes, and whether they want to test for cannabis at all.

The former executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Allen St. Pierre, claims that it is hard to imagine the reason why cannabis is still in the list of other banned substances because the society does not view the herb as a moral turpitude anymore.

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