“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” — Rahm Emanuel
This incident is one of those, it has the potential to change marijuana policies and laws in the U.S. and abroad. Between this incident and the MORE Act passing the House last December, it’s a golden opportunity put the nail in the coffin of Prohibition, unless we trivialize it by framing it as a simple contract violation.
Drug testing is really marijuana testing, as it lasts in the body for many weeks while hard drugs, synthetics, and steroids are untestable in a couple of days. WADA policy implies she had >150 nanos. But what if she had only 15, or even 2 nanos, the per se threshold in some jurisdictions for a THC DUI? That could even be caused by hempseed oil, it’s so unreasonably low. With little transparency, it appears to be a case of Team USA says it, I believe it, and that settles it. But while it may in fact be a business and can set these rules ad hoc as it pleases with no recourse if you want to compete in the Olympics, it is representing all Americans by intent and design. The public should therefore have a say in this private business holding itself out as representing all Americans to the world, when it goes against something 92% of those Americans support, medical marijuana.
“A Law repugnant to the Constitution is void.” — Supreme Court Chief Justice Marshall when for the first time declared unconstitutional a law passed by Congress and signed by the President
The law Team USA will cite, Schedule 1 in the CSA 1970, has one requirement that marijuana must have no medical value. Yet, Congress knew it did and after thousands of different popular and safe Cannabis patent medicines on pharmacy shelves since 1830 by some of today’s drug companies, everyone knew. Congress used Schedule 1 for marijuana only temporarily, awaiting the release of the Shafer Commission report to decide which Schedule it should be in. When that report recommended federal decriminalization, Nixon buried it and marijuana remains Schedule 1 to this day, 51 years later, against the intent of Congress when it put marijuana in Schedule 1.
Since 1996, 47 States are United in finding that marijuana does in fact have medical value, and have used the Tenth Amendment to legalize in that state (some are CBD-only or medical). That makes the CSA as it relates to marijuana unconstitutional 47 times over. Therefore I say any action arising from marijuana being in Schedule 1 of the CSA is fruit of the poison tree. I haven’t seen her contract with Team USA, but no doubt it’s on the list of banned substances because of the federal law. That same repugnant-to-the-Constitution-47-times-over, against-Congressional-intent, explicitly-racist-origins federal law.
Schedule 1 in the CSA like the MTA 1938 before it, were intentionally and explicitly intended to be used against certain races and political adversaries. From looking at Congressional testimony in 1937 and also Nixon’s tapes, there is zero argument about that. While we’re making changes in confronting institutional racism, we should start with the most-obvious example of it, our drug laws.
Why hasn’t a federal court ruled on any of these issues? Because the New Normal has been to seize assets and not prosecute; for the cops it’s a win-win. They keep all the cash and shiny vehicles a la Miami Vice and don’t have to spend money actually prosecuting a case before a judge that could get acquitted, dismissed, or overturned. That way SCOTUS will never get a chance to rule and they keep the sword of damocles hanging over the growers’ heads for 3 years to deter their public advocacy.
This incident raises the awkward point regarding marijuana being a performance-enhancing drug, especially when you add in Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. The “lazy stoner” canard was always their go-to lie when they tried to point out the “evils of marijuana” to teens and children. Once kids figure out you lied about one thing they’ll question everything else you told them including hard drugs. Ironically, D.A.R.E. might be responsible for more hard drug addiction than any other government program.
She’s not the first Olympic athlete to fail a THC test. Snowboarder Ross “Rebagliati was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. After turning pro in 1991, he was the first athlete ever to win an Olympic gold medal for Men’s Snowboarding at the 1998 Winter Olympics. After winning the gold, he was found to have Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in his circulatory system following a urine test and he was disqualified. This decision was overturned, largely on the basis that marijuana was not on the list of banned substances, and Rebagliati was given back the medal. … In 2013 however, WADA amended its rules on cannabis, raising the threshold for a positive test from 15 nanograms per milliliter to 150 ng/ml. In 1998 at the Nagano Games, Rebagliati recorded a level of 17.8 ng/ml, and argued the test resulted from second-hand smoke, which he continues to maintain. Ben Nichols, a spokesperson for WADA, said the raising of the threshold is meant to catch only athletes who smoke during the period of a competition. The drug isn’t prohibited out of competition.” …
“Ross Rebagliati is a firm believer that cannabis is a performance enhancer, and that usage can be helpful for some activities such as extreme sports, as it improves muscle relaxation, reduces anxiety, and extincts fear memories (e.g., negative experiences) leading to enhanced performance. It may also improve sleep time and recovery, which may favour performance when an athlete is facing multiple competitions in a short period of time. Ross Rebagliati believes that Cannabis has many benefits of which CBD (cannabidiol) is one of the biggest. CBD has very powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Reducing inflammation helps to better manage the aches and pains an athlete’s body chronically endures. It also has a calming effect reducing stress and anxiety which are two more realities of being an athlete.” [Wikipedia]
Anything safe and natural which allows an athlete to accomplish natural processes should be allowed, as distinct from substances which give advantage in competition by their design. Sleep more and better, hurt less, be less stressed, and recover faster are natural processes; adjuncts to nature should be allowed, as opposed to substances intended to create frankenstein athletes like Barry Bonds.
I do think that Team USA owed her the duty of medical privacy and possibly violated HIPAA when it outed her use of an accepted substance for a medical/psychological condition. It’s not like this was steroids or HGH purely to secure an advantage over an opponent, it was a tool for coping with the recent death of her mother and they should have made reasonable accommodation for her.
Regardless of where you stand on it, no matter who is in the wrong, this is a golden opportunity to push the legalization discussion into mainstream people’s living rooms: marijuana enhances Olympic-calibre performance and 92% support medical marijuana.
Just Legalize Already.