Sha’Carri Richardson earned Olympic honors

Sha’Carri Richardson captivated the entire nation when she won the Olympic trials for the 100-meter sprint in her iconic orange hair and large eyelashes and ran into the stands to find her grandmother.

She earned her spot to represent our country, but the United States Anti-Doping Agency has handed down a harsh punishment forcing her to miss the 2021 Olympic games—which is why MoveOn members and allies delivered nearly 600,000 signatures in person yesterday to demand that Sha’Carri be allowed to run.

Elena, a MoveOn member and runner, was excited for the upcoming Olympic games, only to be crushed by the news that Sha’Carri was banned from competing for an outrageous, outdated, and irrational rule around marijuana.

So Elena signed a MoveOn petition along with nearly 600,000 members, calling upon USADA, the International Olympic Committee, and the World Anti-Doping Agency to let Sha’Carri run.

And it’s why Elena organized alongside Isabella and Tom to deliver the petition to the USADA. Check out fellow MoveOn members, our partners at NORML Colorado, state Representatives Naquetta Ricks and Jonathan Singer, and drug policy expert Professor Santiago Guerra supporting Sha’Carri at a run and rally in Colorado Springs, where the USADA is headquartered—an action covered by Westword and local news station KRDO, all of which added to the weeks of publicity which has pushed this issue and the greater cause of rewriting our marijuana laws into the public discourse.

MoveOn members’ demands are clear: Reverse Sha’Carri’s suspension and remove THC/marijuana from the banned substances list. Marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug, is legal where Sha’Carri was, and for decades has wrongly been used to criminalize Black and brown communities. 

MoveOn members’ demands are clear: Reverse Sha’Carri’s suspension and remove THC/marijuana from the banned substances list. Marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug, is legal where Sha’Carri was, and for decades has wrongly been used to criminalize Black and brown communities.

And we’re not alone in being outraged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s decision. Check out some of what has transpired over the last two weeks to support Sha’Carri:

  • Almost 600,000 MoveOn members signed the petition, the second largest petition so far this year.
  • Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamie Raskin formally asked the USADA to end Sha’Carri’s suspension.
  • The hashtag #LetShaCarriRun took over Twitter, with celebrities and influencers like Debra Messing, David Zirin, and Adina Porter showing their support in droves.
  • The massive petition by MoveOn members was included in tons of articles by ESPN, “The Today Show,” NBC’s “Nightly News,” NPR, Black Enterprise, and many more.

The fight against the criminalization of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people and communities for marijuana use continues.

This week, U.S. Senators Cory Booker, Charles Schumer, and Ron Wyden introduced legislation that is a historic first step in undoing the harms caused by unjust drug policies. The legislation would decriminalize marijuana and invest the profits in restorative justice to individuals and communities who have long suffered.

The story of Sha’Carri Richardson is one of hope, greatness, and the power of collective action, but only time will tell if it is a story of justice.

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