Since the passage of Amendment 64 legalizing marijuana use in Colorado, a variety of new controversies over its use have cropped up.
Now, ski slopes are taking different approaches to smoking on the ski hill. Arapahoe Basin, better known as A-Basin or A-Bay, has taken a hardline approach, saying that skiers and snowboarders caught smoking will have their passes revoked and potentially face legal consequences.
Alan Henceroth, Arapahoe Basin’s Chief Operating Officer, drew attention to the issue two weeks ago when, after revoking two visitors’ passes. He wrote a post on his blog, “Al’s Blog”, reminding visitors that Amendment 64 still prohibits smoking pot in public or on public lands. “For the people who like to use it, that is awesome, but it’s not legal to use it in public,” Henceroth said.
A-Basin is located on federal lands, as are many other ski areas, and federal law still prohibits the use of marijuana. However, not all ski areas are planning to lay down the law. According to an article in the Denver Post, Wolf Creek Ski Area officials say that unless other skiers are being put in danger, they plan to leave it to Forest Service officers to enforce the law if they deem it necessary.
So do pot smokers on the slopes put other skiers in danger? Opinions vary.
Some people commented who commented on Henceroth’s post said that skiing or snowboarding while high is no safer than driving drunk, since marijuana has been shown to slow reaction time, a potentially dangerous side effect when traveling at high speeds down a snowy mountain side. However, in an article on snowsphere.com, others say that they feel more relaxed and confident when skiing while high.
A third group says that although they use marijuana in other situations, they don’t when hitting the slopes, largely because they feel that they don’t ski as well when high. Either way, marijuana use has become heavily conflated with snow sport culture.
Studies say that skiing/snowboarding under the influence of alcohol increases the risk of accidents, but there hasn’t been nearly as much research done on marijuana’s effects on the sports.
The general opinion is that its impact on skiers/snowboarders can vary, depending on factors like experience with the sport, tolerance for the drug, age, etc. Although using marijuana while participating in these and other sports increases risk of injury, it is unclear just how much it raises the level of risk for the user or the people around them. So what does that mean for CC skiers?
For now, at least at A-Basin, riding high is off limits.
However, what happens in the ski cabin stays in the ski cabin.
Emily Lucas, Guest Writer