Olympic Athletes Can Now Smoke Weed
Long Story Short
The 2016 Summer Olympics are right around the corner. And thanks to some relative lax cannabis rules, Olympic athletes can smoke weed without getting disqualified—as long as it’s not right before or during an actual competition.
The Olympics and cannabis have an interesting history together.
Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati got the whole thing going when he won gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Shortly after winning he tested positive for cannabis. As a result, his gold medal was almost taken from him.
Then in 1999, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) put cannabis on the official list of banned substances. Since the Olympics follows WADA’s rules, cannabis became illegal for Olympic athletes as well.
Fourteen years later, in 2013, WADA made some important changes to its rules. It raised the legal limit of THC by almost 10 times. Now, athletes can’t get in trouble unless they have 150 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.
To put that in context, under the original rules athletes would get busted if they had THC blood levels of 15 ng/ml or higher. By raising the threshold, WADA essentially made it so that athletes won’t get punished if they have trace amounts of THC in their systems. That means that athletes can puff in their personal lives without getting in trouble.
The new rules make it so that the only time an athlete would ever test above the allowable limit is if they got high right before or during an event. But if they smoke a few days before or after a competition they should be fine.
Cannabis Is Still Controversial
Although WADA’s rules let athletes have a little bit of THC in their systems, cannabis is still super controversial.
For starters, WADA and the Olympics still include cannabis on their lists of banned substances. Just because the rules have gotten a little more relaxed doesn’t mean cannabis is all-out OK in the eyes of WADA.
Beyond that, there’s still a lot of serious social stigma for cannabis-puffing athletes. Just look at what happened to swimmer Michael Phelps.
After dominating the 2008 Olympics, Phelps was caught smoking weed. Nothing happened to all his gold medals, but he still got caught up in a nasty controversy. USA Swimming banned him from all competitions for three months. And he lost a big time endorsement.
In the end, although WADA’s rules give athletes some wiggle room when it comes to using cannabis, they still need to be very careful when and how they puff.