Most of us have heard that Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended after testing positive for THC, one of the components of cannabis. She used cannabis as part of her healing process after learning of the death of her biological mother from a reporter. This resulted in her being stripped of her win in the Women’s 100-meter Olympic trials, and she will not be able to compete in the 2021 Olympics in this race. It’s still up in the air if she will participate in a relay.

Sha’Carri responded with an apology, but it IRKS MY SOUL that she felt like she had to apologize for simply taking care of herself.

Cannabis has always been and always will be medicine!

The record-breaking athlete and Black woman tweeted: “I am human.” It is, in fact, necessary to make that statement. Too often, Black women are seen as survivors that need to overcome tragedy after tragedy, then rise up and keep going without the time or resources to heal like a normal human.

When President Biden was asked about the ruling of the Olympic powers that be, he responded: “The rules are the rules and everybody knows what the rules were going in. Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules.”

Dear President Biden:

With all due respect, straddling the fence is not acceptable on this issue. Your lack of advances in the area of cannabis is detrimental to the health and prosperity of the marginalized people you say your support. There are a lot of rules in our country that victimize people in favor of profit. We elected you to change them, not to defend them!

Slavery and Jim Crow laws were once accepted rules. During that time in history, would you defend those rules or would you change them? Well today, your statement says that you choose to perpetuate the mindset that Black women should sit back, take what we are dealt, no matter how unfair it is, and survive, instead of being given the grace to be human. It is my hope that you will change your mind and not let that be your contribution to history.

What may be even worse than the leader of the free world making these types of statements is our own community internalizing that fact that we are somehow less than human, undeserving of fair rules and proper healing.

Dear Everybody:

I feel your pure intentions when you defend Sha’Carri by saying that you too have done wrong when you were young, but PLEASE STOP. Sha’Carri did nothing wrong. The system is wrong! Instead of implying that she needs to change, demand that this unjust system change.

If cannabis is a performance enhancer because it improves the health and functionality of the endocannabinoid system and the human body, then proper nutrition, proper hydration and proper rest are also performance enhancers that must be banned.

If cannabis is a drug of abuse with no medical benefits, please inform the US government that hypocritically obtained a patent on cannabinoids that lists some of the medical benefits of these components of the plant. Please inform the body of international research that supports cannabis’ utility as a safe medication for a multitude of illnesses. Please inform the FDA that approved medications that are either derived from the plant or mimic the components of the plant.

So, no need for Sha’Carri to change and do better. It’s time for the USATF, WADA, USADA, IOC, USA, WHO, AMA and the rest of the alphabet soup to change and do better. It’s time for them to learn the science and form policies that are rooted in that science.

It’s time for them to let Black women be human.


-Dr. Kaya

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Dr. Kaya (Angela Ledbetter, MD) is a board-certified emergency medicine physician who is passionate about utilizing cannabis to decrease health and wealth disparities. Dr. Kaya founded 40 Acres And A Dispensary, an organization that educates the Black community on the vast opportunities in the cannabis industry and co-founded Indica PhD, an organization that provides cannabis health education to the Black community. She is a board member and the secretary of ACHEM (Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine), a professional organization for BIPOC healthcare professionals and students active or interested in cannabinoid medicine and health equity, as well as a coalition member of CHEM (Cannabis Health Equity Movement) and a co-creator of I Am Defining Me. Along with her cannabis industry education and cannabis health education work, Dr. Kaya actively advocates for equitable cannabis legislation within organizations like Minorities for Medical Marijuana and ACHEM.

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