Puff, Puff, and Keep Passing


Who’s got the ganja? From Chicago to where I now live in Antigua, that question has followed me. My response is always the same. I don't know, and I can't help you. I do not smoke or sell weed.


If the initial question leads to a further discussion, I talk more about my history with marijuana. I have never smoked or sold weed. Sure, I've had friends who smoked it in my presence, but I never hit the blunt. That response usually gets a "shut-up fool, why you lying, this clown,” or some version of a reply that indicates they don’t believe I’m telling them the truth.


Are you surprised? I'm almost sure that my dreads don't help me in this situation. The assumption that I often encounter in response to my hair is that I am a Rastafarian who smokes weed as part of a religious sacrament.


While I respect Rastafarians' affection for Pan-Africanism and natural living, I do not subscribe to their religious beliefs. My dreads have roots in resistance and locked connections to African ancestors, but I don’t pray to Ras Tafari.


I share this with you for context to the ideas in this post about the Sha’Carri Richardson controversy. If you have not followed the latest sports headlines, Olympian Sha’Carri Richardson tested positive for marijuana during a routine drug screening. As a result, she will not have an opportunity to participate in the Tokyo games.

In interviews discussing the positive drug test results, she opens up about turning to marijuana when her mom passed away. Ganja helped her cope with the loss.


I know about the medical benefits associated with marijuana. According to an academic study, it can help alleviate challenges in older people who experience Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. One of my capoeira teachers used it to help relieve chronic back pain.


We don’t know enough about the long-term risks that consuming cannabis can influence. A Medical News Today article suggests that regular use of marijuana can lead to testicular cancer, respiratory diseases, and mental health problems. On the other hand, I've had friends swear that intense food cravings are the only side-effects of smoking weed.


Whether you support or disagree with Richardson’s decision to use marijuana, we must acknowledge the damage of the drug war’s impact on the lives of people of color. According to The Sentencing Project, 50% of people locked up in the US for drug-related offenses come from African-American and Latinx communities. The reality that the lives of too many Black males receive harsh sentences for possession of an illegal substance is enough for me to continue my stance on not using or selling weed.


From my commitments to exercise, you also know how serious I am about supporting habits that keep me in prime shape. Today I am loading up on carbs and fats for tomorrow's 15-mile run. I eat a ridiculous amount of food every Thursday and Friday to prepare for my heavy weekend workouts.

Richardson experienced a lapse in judgment. To paraphrase her public apology, she is a human being who happens to run a little faster than you.

Sha’Carri didn’t make it to the Olympic stage of track and field without discipline and intrinsic motivation to become the best version of herself. When death comes to the door of our loved ones, we don’t know how we will answer that knock. We should avoid shaming Richardson.


If you decide to smoke or sell weed, it’s your decision. In some US states, selling and consuming a moderate amount of ganja is legal. It was legal in the state where Richardson used it to deal with the passing away of her mom. Here in Antigua, the government has relaxed its laws governing it as well.


Now, before you take the green light and herbs to smoke, bake, or eat your next hit, consider the risks. Maybe, the high or pain relief is worth potential exposure to cancer, respiratory illnesses, and missed opportunities. I don’t know, because again, I've never tried marijuana.


All I can say is, please don’t ask me again if I have any weed for you. I can’t help you. Instead of wasting your time, share this post with one person who smokes marijuana.

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