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University of Colorado study looks at impact of marijuana use on physical performance

Study comes as Olympic sprinter is disqualified
Sha'Carri Richardson
Posted at 7:29 AM, Jul 16, 2021

BOULDER, Colo. — How does marijuana impact physical performance? It’s a topic that’s getting a lot of attention after sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson lost her chance to compete in the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for marijuana.

University of Colorado Boulder psychology and neuroscience professor Angela Bryan said there’s little evidence to show marijuana use would enhance physical performance. Bryan is the co-director of CUChange, which has done several studies looking into cannabis use and health.

“My program of research involves health behavior and trying to determine how we can best get people to engage in behaviors like physical activity, so for me, I just want to know what are the potential risks (and) what are the potential benefits,” Bryan said.

A new study, led by one of Bryan’s graduate students, will examine the direct impact of marijuana use on exercise. Researchers will have participants run on a treadmill under the influence of THC, and run while not under the influence, and compare the results. The research will have to be done using a mobile laboratory because marijuana is not allowed on the CU campus, as it is still a Schedule I drug at the federal level.

“We can drive to a participant's house, do some baseline assessments, have them go into their house, use the product, they get back into our mobile laboratory, and then we bring them to the lab to run on the treadmill,” Bryan said about the process.

CUChange is still recruiting participants for this study and others. Call 603-970-1822 or email