Sha’Carri Richardson, you used pot to grieve. That shouldn’t kill your Olympic dreams.

On Tuesday, USA Track & Field officials announced what many of us dreaded was coming: Sha’Carri Richardson, a stellar Black female athlete who earned the right to represent her country, would be denied a spot on the U.S. Olympic relay team. It was her last chance to get to Tokyo.   

She tested positive for doing what millions legally do every day: consuming cannabis. And she apologized for breaking the rules. 

As a consumer of cannabis and an advocate of social equity, I want to say to Richardson: Sis, I see you, and I want to thank you. I want to thank you for being that girl, unapologetically fast and human.

I see how the war on drugs and all of the misconceptions around this plant continue to negatively impact people like Richardson every single day.

The fact of the matter is that she didn’t need to apologize because she has nothing to apologize for. 

She exercised her right to consume cannabis. The only difference between her and the millions of people who do the same is that an antiquated rule made her pain and grief front and center for the world to see. 

There is so much more we need to know about this plant and how we can use it to care for ourselves. But here is what we do know: People should never be shamed into apologizing for needing help to cope with the emotional toll of losing a loved one. Richardson had learned that her biological mother died right before the Olympic trials. That alone is difficult. But Richardson learned about it in a way that most of us can’t imagine. The track star recounted on NBC’s “Today” show being shocked when she heard the news from a reporter during what she thought was going to be a routine interview. 

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