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World anti-doping agency to carry out scientific cannabis review in 2022

A scientific review of cannabis will be carried out by the World Anti-Doping Agency to establish whether the substance should be removed from the prohibited list.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) recently announced it would conduct a scientific review of cannabis to determine whether it should be removed as a banned substance following a number of requests.

The organisation’s Executive Committee (ExCo) made the announcement at its third meeting of the year in Istanbul, noting that use of the plant would remain prohibited until a decision is made in 2022.

Currently, cannabinoid substances are prohibited with the exception of CBD, which is often used by athletes to aid recovery from sports injuries.

The Wada website states: “All natural and synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited except for cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis, hashish and marijuana are prohibited.

“Products, including foods and drinks, containing cannabinoids, are also prohibited. All synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the effects of THC are prohibited.

“CBD is not prohibited; however, athletes should be aware that some CBD oils and tinctures extracted from cannabis plants, may also contain THC and other cannabinoids that could result in a positive test for a prohibited cannabinoid.”

Commenting on the decision Wada stated: “…following receipt of requests from a number of stakeholders, the ExCo endorsed the decision of the List Expert Advisory Group to initiate in 2022 a scientific review of the status of cannabis. Cannabis is currently prohibited in competition and will continue to be in 2022.”

The decision follows the ban of Sha’Carri Richardson from the Tokyo games after testing positive for THC. The US sprinter said on the Today Show that she used the substance to cope with the loss of her mother.

Speaking at the time of Richardson’s ban, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO, Travis Tygart, commented: “Regarding the way in which THC positives are handled, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sets the rules for the world that all countries—including the United States—have to follow. While the U.S. government has a seat at the table to provide feedback, and will continue to speak up for athletes, we are ultimately bound to the WADA rules. This is true even in sad and tough cases like this one, where we might take a different approach if the choice was ours to make.”

And continued: “While the rules here are clear, it is a terrible situation. Of course, it is important to emphasize that, as Sha’Carri said, she takes full responsibility and ownership of the decision to use marijuana despite knowing it was a risk. She learned about those risks during in-person education with USADA on multiple occasions, and several times she completed our online education modules, all of which address marijuana.

“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.”

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