The Summer Olympics are finally underway in Tokyo, sans U.S. track star Sha’Carri Richardson, whose failed drug test and ensuing suspension reignited the conversation over the criminalization of drugs in Black and brown communities last month. Well, consider soccer champ Megan Rapinoe’s latest brand deal additional fuel to that fire.
A recent Forbes piece centered on Rapinoe and a new addition to her training regimen – CBD gummies and topical sticks – began recirculating Friday afternoon within the context of Richardson’s very public exclusion from The Games for a slightly different substance, leading commenters to label the Olympics as “racist and sexist toward Black women” and “f–king gross.”
People are arguing that the differences between the substances are not significant enough to justify the difference in how they’ve been treated by the Olympics and media at large.
To reiterate what many commentators on the other side of the debate said, CBD and THC, the chemical that disqualified Richardson from the competition, come from different plants, hemp and marijuana, respectively. These “sister plants” are related but it’s marijuana’s higher THC content and larger psychoactive effect that separates it from CBD, at least in the eyes of the Olympic committee.
It should also be noted that Rapinoe won’t be using Mendi products at the Olympics given Tokyo’s strict anti-cannabis laws. The article in question was simply framing Rapinoe’s adoption of Mendi, which was founded by her sister Rachel, within the broader narrative of the drug’s increased acceptance in the sports world at large. Well, in almost all of it.
In fact, the U.S. soccer captain voiced her support for Richardson earlier this month, tweeting, “This is trash. Standing with @itskerrii 100%. This has BEEN outdated.”
Richardson owned up to her drug use in an interview with NBC’s “Today” earlier this month, explaining how she’d used cannabis to cope with the “nerve shocking” news of her biological mother’s death.
“Who am I to tell you how to cope when you’re dealing with a pain or you’re dealing with a struggle that you’ve never experienced before, or that you’ve never thought you would have to do it?” she said. “Like who am I to tell you how to cope for them? Who am I to tell you that you are wrong for hurting?”