Photo by Nelson Ndongala

Megan Rapinoe Stepped Right In It By Endorsing THC-free CBD Products

Megan Rapinoe is not a hypocrite, but she’s been caught in a hypocritical situation by the poorly-timed publication of a story touting her endorsement of THC-free CBD products during the Olympics, even as her Olympic peer, Sha’Carri Richardson, was banned from Team USA after testing positive for THC, a non-performance-enhancing compound in cannabis.

Rapinoe is white; Richardson is Black. And the prohibition on THC has been used for decades to systematically oppress Black communities through over-enforcement. So this is a tough situation for Rapinoe, made even tougher by her reputation as an advocate for marginalized communities in global sports. 

“So the problem here is the THC-free CBD products. What’s ignited this moment of hypocrisy is THC-free CBD products.”

the author writes

The discrepancy between Rapinoe’s CBD usage and Richardson’s THC usage has been called racist by many on social media, but no one can credibly call Rapinoe a racist. She has done more than enough to demonstrate her status as an ally to the Black community. Back in 2016, she took a knee at the national anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick. Her current Twitter icon is a “Black Lives Matter” logo. Back on July 2, she was tweeting her support of Richardson. Those are receipts. 

But in the midst of this PR storm, her Twitter feed is practically all ads for the corporations paying good money to reach her nearly 1 million followers — Sony, Visa, and Budweiser.

But one sponsorship that she hasn’t tweeted about lately is her endorsement with Mendi, a CBD brand founded by her twin sister. 

Rapinoe is totally within her right to use CBD and should be able to accept an endorsement deal from a CBD brand. But the reason Rapinoe is able to endorse a CBD brand without testing positive for THC is because her sister’s company makes THC-free CBD products. 

So the problem here is the THC-free CBD products. What’s ignited this moment of hypocrisy is THC-free CBD products. 

Rapinoe’s usage of THC-free CBD products at the Olympics would appear to be a coordinated effort to bring attention to her sister’s brand. But because of the Sha’Carri Richardson situation, the attention to Rapinoe and her CBD brand has boomeranged in a bad way. And the reason for that is because her CBD brand makes THC-free CBD. 

By marketing THC-free CBD products, the Rapinoe sisters want to have it both ways: appealing to progressives who see CBD as a natural health supplement without scaring away more conservative types who are still afraid of THC. Consequently, they have been caught in the crossfire of the culture war. 

Why would anyone buy THC-free CBD unless they were afraid of THC? Marketing THC-free products (and endorsing them during the Olympics) only perpetuates that fear of THC — the same fear of THC that caused Richardson to get suspended from Team USA. 

This wasn’t a big problem for the Rapinoe sisters until now, but here we are. Megan Rapinoe has devoted her career off the pitch to advocating for marginalized communities, but her endorsement deal with a THC-free CBD brand has been a step in the wrong direction. The Sha’Carri Richardson situation brought that misstep into focus on the biggest stage in sports. 

Megan Rapinoe is not a Karen; but the customers for the THC-free CBD products she endorses are almost entirely Karens.

And that’s why this episode rang out as off-brand for Rapinoe, who is usually an effective advocate for marginalized communities. 

If you’re a forward-leaning advocate for the marginalized, you can’t endorse a “safe” product like THC-free CBD. The ban on THC in sports remains as one of the many lingering systemic aspects of the bogus ‘war on drugs.’

To end the THC prohibition for good, to ensure that situations like Sha’Carri Richardson never happen again, we must all band together and break every last chain restricting THC in the public sphere. That starts with understanding THC-free CBD products don’t do anyone any good.

Jim Higdon is co-founder of Cornbread Hemp, a full spectrum CBD products brand, and a former journalist who covered cannabis for national publications like POLITICO and THRILLIST. You can find out more on his website, https://www.cornbreadhemp.com/flower-only/

Jim Higdon is co-founder of Cornbread Hemp, a full spectrum CBD products brand, and a former journalist who covered cannabis for national publications like POLITICO and THRILLIST. You can find out more on his website, https://www.cornbreadhemp.com/flower-only/

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