AOC Condemns ‘Racist And Colonial’ Sha’Carri Richardson Marijuana Ban

by : Hannah Smith on : 03 Jul 2021 16:11
AOC Condems 'Racist And Colonial' Sha'Carri Richardson Marijuana BanPA Images

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said the rule that led to US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson being banned from competing at the Tokyo Olympics is rooted in ‘racist and colonial’ attitudes towards marijuana use.

Richardson was handed a 30-day competition ban after testing positive for THC, an ingredient found in cannabis, following her 100m victory at the US Olympic Trials last week, meaning she will be unable to compete in the event at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo.


The decision to ban Richardson has been met with outrage on social media, with many pointing out the sprinter had used to drug legally and recreationally, rather than to illegally gain a competitive advantage.

She'Carri Richardson received a 30 day ban for positive marijuana test (PA Images)PA Images

Representative Ocasio-Cortez echoed these views in a tweet condemning the ban, writing:

The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy.

The IOC should reconsider its suspension of Ms. Richardson and any athletes penalized for cannabis use.


Richardson’s ban was handed down by US Anti Doping, however their policies are in line with International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Association regulations, which deem THC and cannabis to be a ‘substance of abuse,’ per Insider.

Drug policy campaigner Erik Altieri, who leads advocacy group NORML, said doping laws on cannabis made ‘exactly zero sense’ at a time when attitudes towards marijuana were growing more liberal in the United States and across the world. Marijuana laws in the United States have historically been disproportionately enforced, with Black Americans four times more likely than white Americans to be arrested under marijuana laws, despite the two demographics using the drug at roughly equal rates.

Following up on her tweet, Ocasio-Cortez announced on Friday, July 2, that the Subcommittee on Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, of which she is co-chair, had formally called on US Anti-Doping to end Richardson’s suspension.


In a letter to USAD, Ocasio-Cortez and committee chair Jamie Raskin wrote the ban on marijuana was an ‘significant and unnecessary burden on athletes’ civil liberties’ and pointed out that while the drug was banned on the grounds that it was ‘frequently abused in society outside the context of sports’, other commonly abused substances like alcohol and cigarettes were not banned.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: News, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Marijuana, no-article-matching, Now, Sha’Carri Richardson


  1. @AOC/Twitter

    The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy.