Less than a gram of cannabis oil

Cannabis controversies in sports

GABRIELLE BOWMAN, Evergreen news co-editor

There are only a few states left in the U.S. that have not legalized cannabis and now athletes have come out to support the use of cannabis and its benefits. Athletes are still being penalized and put under fire for their use of cannabis but is this all about to change?

States such as Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas and South Carolina are the only states that have the use of cannabis completely illegal. In all other states cannabis is fully legal or legal for medical use, yet athletes are still held to the standard of not using cannabis.

“It’s not a steroid. It’s not a growth hormone. It’s nothing to make you run faster, jump faster, throw faster-furthest thing from that,” Joseph M. Hanna, an attorney from Buffalo New York said to NBC News. “It has more of an opportunity to slow you down than to speed you up.” 

There have been many athletes in the nation that have been reprimanded for the use of cannabis which has been scientifically shown it will not induce performance. This was the case for Sha’Carri Richardson.

Richardson tested positive for cannabis after she won the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S track and field trials. With the positive test her win was invalidated and she was put on suspension for a month. Richardson had recently heard of the news of her mother’s death when a reporter asked her about the subject.

With the news of the death of her mother Richardson used cannabis as a way to cope while in Oregon for the Olympic Trials she said in an interview with the TODAY show. However, suspension has not been the only case for athletes when it has come to the possession or use of cannabis. 

Brittney Griner, an eight-time all-star for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist was convicted in Moscow, Russia’s Sheremetyevo Airport when police found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Griner did admit to having the canisters in her luggage but testified that she inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent. 

Her defense team presented written statements that she had been prescribed cannabis to treat pain. Russia accused Griner of smuggling narcotics. Griner was tested for drugs at this point in time and her results came back negative. 

Griner pleaded guilty to her charges and a court in Moscow found her guilty for drug smuggling and possession charges for the less than a gram of cannabis oil in her possession. Her sentence was no more than nine years in prison. It was her decision to plead guilty according to her legal team, according to a CNN article. 

“She decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows she is a role model for many people,” Her legal team said in a statement.

Many teammates have spoken up about Griner’s arrest stating that they miss her and can not wait until she can come back to the U.S. 

Most have expressed emotional discontentment of the situation according to Skylar Diggins-Smith, guard for the Mercurys. 

She does not expect everyone to be upset but the team does. How do they expect them to approach the game, approach the court with a clear mind when the whole group was crying before the game, Diggins-Smith said to reporters.

Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, has also spoken up about her wife’s sentence and her discontentment with the U.S. for not doing more to get her wife home. She told CNN that she was not confident the government’s current actions were enough. Cherelle Griner had a conversation with President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris about her wife.

“He’s doing what he can but there’s another party in this situation and we are also dealing with the need for Russia to have mercy on B.G. [Brittney Griner] as well,” She said in an interview with CBS Mornings

Other athletes have also spoken up about the sentencing of Griner stating their frustration with the U.S. government for not doing more. Lebron James talked about the situation on his show The Shop.

“Over 110 days, now how could she feel like America has her back?” James said on the show. “I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?’”.He said. `

James received backlash for his comment and later posted on Twitter for clarification.

“My comments on ‘The Shop’ regarding Brittney Griner wasn’t knocking our beautiful country. I was simply saying how she’s probably feeling emotionally along with so many other emotions, thoughts, etc inside that cage she’s been in for over 100+ days! Long story short #BringHerHome.” James said in his tweet. 


In the Women’s National Basketball Association it is banned to use cannabis, however, Griner will not be punished if she returns to the league, an official who was not authorized to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the matter told the New York Times.