Why Are the Olympics Testing for Marijuana?

PHOTO: pot

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Good news, pot-smoking Olympians: the agency that sets the rules around Olympic drug use is loosening its standards for marijuana.

Basically, the new rules will test for people smoking in the hours or days before a competition instead of weeks and months.

The policy change might affect other international sports, as well. More than 600 other sports associations use the code set by the group, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Now you might be wondering. Why is pot considered a performance-enhancing drug anyway?

Scientists don't really see it that way, but, as you know, drug policy isn't always based on science.

See Also: Fighting Drug Addiction With Marijuana

David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, shared his thoughts with Reuters in August 2012:

"There's no evidence cannabis is ever performance enhancing in sport, and since its use is legal in a number of countries, there's no reason for it to be banned by WADA," he said.

"I can't think of any sport in which it would be an advantage. And it seems ludicrous that someone could quite legally smoke cannabis in Amsterdam in the morning and then come over to London in the afternoon and be banned from competing."

He made these comments after an American judo player was expelled from the London 2012 Olympic Games for testing positive for marijuana. If you're not familiar with the sport, it's more or less two people in a death grip trying to flip each other over (see some people get dropped on their heads to a Limp Bizkit soundtrack here).

You really wanna light a spliff before facing the best judo players in the world? Be my guest. I'll be here watching it on YouTube.

While you might have heard of one or two musicians or artists smoking marijuana for inspiration, researchers seem pretty convinced that it doesn't give sports players an edge.

Yet pot has been banned by WADA since the organization was created in 2003, apparently amid pressure from the U.S.

Richard Pound, who was the first head of the organization and is still on its board, told Golfweek that American sports officials wanted to see it added to the list of forbidden substances.

"From a sports perspective, I was rather ambivalent [toward marijuana]," Pound said. "As we morphed into WADA, the USA was very keen to have it included."

Of course, even with the new policy, athletes will still be tested for weed. It will just be a test for very recent use.

The idea is prevent another Michael Phelps moment, where one man's bong hit humiliates an entire nation. Can you still feel the shame, nation?

But with the drug now legal for recreational use in two states and for medical use in 19 more (plus D.C.), the ban could be starting to look a little too overtly political. If you didn't think that already.

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Alt

More than half of Americans support marijuana legalization. Still, the federal government considers it a dangerous drug. This is a look at the science, the conversations, and the politics of pot.

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