The Olympics and Cannabis: What’s The T?
With the Olympics in full speed, spending evenings with favorite cannabis products in front of the TV is completely justified. Watching all this drama and painful moments, you may wonder — how do the Olympians relax and treat their pain?
Cannabis is a natural answer, right? No. WADA prohibits athletes from using cannabis but allowed cannabinoid limits will definitely surprise you.
THC limits: higher than you expect
The story of cannabis and Olympics goes back to 1998. Ross Rebagliati, a Canadian snowboarder, who was the first-ever Olympic gold medalist in snowboarding, was stripped of the medal after his urine tested positive for THC. The story has a happy ending, though: he got his medal back by pointing out that cannabis at the time was not a banned substance. After that, however, cannabinoids have been making a list annually.
Fast forward to 2013: WADA’s THC limit quietly raises from 15 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL. The head of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission just noted that the change was “a reasonable attempt at dealing with a complicated matter,” adding: “There is a big debate on it.”
Just think about it: workplace drug tests used in the US set limits about 15 ng/mL and 100 ng/mL. Yep. However, legal-cannabis states have thresholds for cannabis DUI, but those are generally based on cannabinoid concentration in whole blood. WADA, on the other hand, tests urine, so the limits are difficult to compare.
What about CBD, though?
In September 2017, WADA removed CBD restrictions from the list. That makes the agency one of the most progressive international organizations in the world. In the US, for example, the DEA is still trying to claim that CBD is illegal.
WADA simply warns athletes that consuming CBD could increase the risk of inadvertently consuming THC as well, which could lead to a positive drug test.
Okay, but what do these limits mean?
It is hard to say for sure. How long cannabis remains in the human body depends on consumption habits, genetics, lifestyle, and much more. Athletes are generally leaner and have a good metabolism, so they would be likely to pass this test sooner than most of us.
But what does science say? According to Paul Cary, director of the Toxicology and Drug Monitoring Laboratory at the University of Missouri, when it comes to 50 ng/mL cut-off, “it would be unlikely for a chronic user to produce a positive urine drug test result for longer than ten days after the last smoking episode”.
So, to fail the WADA’s test at current 150 ng/mL limit, an athlete must be an avid cannabis consumer. (However, it is still better to avoid it because officials love to conduct surprise doping tests. Thug life.)
But medical marijuana…
Yep, there is the ‘therapeutic use exemption.’ WADA and USADA (the US Anti-Doping Agency) allow athletes to apply TUEs that allow them to use medications on the agency’s doping list. There must be a doctor’s recommendations that prove an athlete’s need for a particular medication.
USADA’s website says that the agency will consider medical marijuana applications but only for limited conditions. It means that synthetic cannabinoids like Marinol or Cesamet approved by FDA probably will slip by restrictions while the cannabis plant material will remain prohibited.
Being an Olympic athlete has some serious perks. But it also requires a lot of work, perseverance, and mental toughness. Probably, we would be better off on the couch, watching their stunning performances.
Go Team USA!
This post is based on this material.
(Sweedsy in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.)