Remove Cannabis Ban for Athletes in Sport

To the Members of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 2021 Code Drafting Team,

We, the undersigned members of Athletes for CARE, call for you to remove cannabis, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the other natural cannabinoids, from the WADA prohibited list.

We represent more than 150 athletes from eight countries, who have competed in more than 50 professional leagues, spanning 28 sports.

We have found an improved quality of life through cannabis and natural cannabinoids, including significant therapeutic and wellness benefits, and these positives should be freely available to all other athletes.

As you are aware, the WADA Prohibited List may include any substance and methods that satisfy any two of the following three criteria:

  • It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance

  • It represents an actual or potential health risk to the Athlete

  • It violates the spirit of sport

Athletes for CARE believes cannabis and THC simply do not meet any of these criteria – and certainly not two of the three.

Though cannabis and THC supports general wellness by aiding in pain relief and rest, there is no evidence that they enhance sport performance.

Cannabis and its components, including THC, have numerous documented therapeutic effects and a relative lack of potential harms. In the past, cannabis and THC were strongly linked with smoking, however, these products are now available in numerous other non-inhaled consumption forms.

“The spirit of sport” is the celebration of the human spirit, body and mind. We have found that cannabis supports these values including; health and wellness, fun and joy, teamwork, community and solidarity and more.

Cannabis prohibition has always been a political decision rather than a scientific one. As we emerge from prohibition in the US and worldwide, our evidence-based understanding of this beneficial plant has led millions worldwide to use it for its many benefits, as well as its relative lack of potential harms.

Cannabis is currently legal for medical use in nineteen countries, thirty-four US states and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

WADA has made positive progress in removing cannabidiol (CBD) from the prohibited list and in raising the Carboxy-THC (THC metabolite) threshold to 150 ng/mL. These reforms are progress, but do not go far enough in allowing athletes to use the plant medicine that most benefits their wellbeing.

In keeping with WADA's values of ethics, fair play and honesty, the organization owes it to athletes to allow full access to this gentle but effective plant medicine – without having to go through an arduous Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) process.

The current process causes issues for athletes who consume cannabinoids, and WADA even acknowledges this problem with the policy that an athlete may establish No Significant Fault or Negligence by clearly demonstrating that the context of the cannabinoid use was unrelated to sport performance. The obvious, correct, and easy solution is simply to remove cannabis and THC from the in competition prohibited list.

As a global cultural leader in human performance and health, WADA has the opportunity to light the way in correcting the unfair and harmful stigma that has been attached to this beneficial plant.

Yours in Sport,

Athletes for CARE

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