Since the suspension of Sha’Carri Richardson, there’s been a lot of debate swelling about cannabis prohibition. One of the voices that condemned the decision by the Olympic Committee was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who called it a “racist and colonial policy”.
As was reported in Business Insider;
Although cannabis is generally not considered a performance-enhancing drug, the World Anti-Doping Agency, an arm of the IOC, deems it a “substance of abuse.”
The IOC is the International Olympic Committee, which Ocasio is talking about.
“The criminalization and banning of cannabis is an instrument of racist and colonial policy,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter. “The IOC should reconsider its suspension of Ms. Richardson and any athletes penalized for cannabis use.”
The last bit of the Business Insider Article asks a simple question – which so happens to be the inspiration for this article.
The move to ban Richardson is the latest in a string of decisions by those running the Olympic games that have been decried as prejudiced.
Is the Ban because of prejudice?
As you all may or may not know, I’m all for cannabis. Hell, my pseudonym is “Reginald Reefer!”
Nonetheless, I don’t agree with the notion that the IOC made their decision based on prejudice. Prejudice would mean that its decision was based on a preconceived opinion that is not based in reason or actual experience.
In a way, this could be true – however, the truth behind the band doesn’t come down to prejudice as much as policy.
The INTERNATIONAL BAN on a long list of psychotropic drugs have created an environment where the default policy is – “If you’ve got drugs in you, you’re cheating, a criminal, etc”.
This means that the IOC did not suspend Richardson because of “prejudice” but merely because of legalism. It’s the exact same excuse the police makes when they bust you for pot.
It’s not that you’re a danger or that you’re doing anything that is endangering the public, it’s because the act of smoking is illegal and therefore, you must be punished.
If this sounds ridiculous to you…WELCOME TO THE FUCKING CLUB!
It’s not like cannabis activists have been saying this exact same thing since the dawn of prohibition. Oh wait, they totally did!
What about the inherent racism of cannabis prohibition?
One thing that Ocasio-Cortez hits on the nose is the racial origins of cannabis prohibition. Cannabis prohibition still serves as an instrument of oppression, yet – I don’t think racism is at the heart of modern-prohibition.
I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist, nor denying the link between racism and prohibition. I just don’t think that the IOC’s decisions are based in racism.
I don’t think they said, “She tested positive for THC (and is black)” as their motivations for her suspension. In all likeliness, this is simply policy enforcement.
Is the “policy” racist for banning drugs?
Not either – it’s simply outdated. You have to understand that drug prohibition shaped every other policy around it.
People were regularly screened in schools, places of work, international events, for these substances. In the context of sports, the screening of drugs was meant to promote “fair competition”.
Yet, everybody knows that cannabis can hardly be considered “Performance enhancing”.
Nonetheless, the Olympic Policy on drugs is a result of prohibition, but isn’t inherently racist despite the overlapping history of racism and prohibition.
While Ocasio-Cortez is correct in asserting the racist connection between cannabis and prohibition, it really doesn’t fit the narrative of this particular case. At least not to public knowledge of the events.
Perhaps Cortez is merely pandering to her base utilizing Trump-like tactics to frame an enemy out of anything that is “hot” in the public eye.
A News Troll if you will.
I SAID PERHAPS!
How about Cannabis and Colonialism?
I don’t really understand the need to talk about colonialism within the context of the ban, but now that it’s been brought up – let’s take a closer look at cannabis and colonialism.
According to the Oxford Dictionary Colonialism is defined as, the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.
Under this definition, we can see that;
The IOC is a non-political organization that doesn’t represent any country/ideology and only is focused in on preserving the ideals of the Olympics
There’s no monetary gains to be obtained via the ban.
Even within the context of national prohibition, the idea of colonialism is actually kind of absurd. If Ocasio-Cortez is referring that under the British cannabis was a core trade commodity – then, I guess we can call “tea and coffee” colonialist activities as well?
There was no clarification on these terms and thus one can only be left to come to one’s own conclusions.
The Violation of Individual Human Rights is enough!
I took a deep dive on Ocasio-Cortez’ comment for a singular purpose – to remove the fluff.
These days I continually read about “modifier arguments” to legalize cannabis or end prohibition. The single most important thing we should focus on is the violation of individual human rights.
Now, in terms of the Olympic – they aren’t violating anyone’s human rights. You’re not forced to go to the Olympics and thus, since they have certain rules in place – if you break them you get suspended.
It sucks, but as Biden said, “Rules are the rules”. I’m not a fan of Biden but he’s right on that one.
But let’s not obscure the arguments by swaddling a bunch of issues together. Cannabis prohibition is a violation of an individual’s right to choose what they can or cannot put into their own bodies.
What else do you need?
It’s true that the origins of prohibition are sauced in racism, yet modern prohibition is no longer about that. It’s about corporatism, intellectual property, government contracts, industries that was birthed from prohibition, and much more.
Nevertheless, we don’t need to win on any of these fronts. The only front we need to win on is about the ownership of our own bodies.