The New Year didn’t just usher in a new era of legal adult-use marijuana in California. It also marked the end of prohibition of the cannabis compound cannabidiol in world sport.

In late September, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced it would remove cannabidiol from the prohibited substances list. The ruling by the agency which develops the drug code upheld by more than 660 sports organizations, including International Olympic Committee (IOC) and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), went into effect Jan. 1.

The move overturns part of what the New York Times called the Ross Rebagliati Rule— the 1998 blanket ban on marijuana in Olympic competition instituted after the Canadian snowboard Gold Medalist tested positive for trace amounts of marijuana at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.

Removing CBD from the banned substances list is a step in the right direction for international cannabis reform, Rebagliati told The Cannabist. If WADA and the IOC move away from prohibition, other countries may follow suit and consider cannabis reform at home, he said.

The Canadian snowboarder was stripped of his gold medal, but the IOC’s decision was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport because there was no clear provision for marijuana testing during the Nagano Games. Rebagliati has since taken up “the cannabis torch” and in 2013 he founded Canadian medical marijuana company Ross’ Gold.


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