Ski Resorts and Forest Service at Odds Over Marijuana Use

Smoking and Skiing

An Evolving Debate

A nuanced discussion over the public use of marijuana is beginning to crop up around Colorado's ski areas. Over the last decade Colorado has become increasingly casual in its relationship with marijuana. In 2012 Colorado legalized the use and sale of recreational pot, and just this month the state voted to approve a 25 percent tax on any retail sales of the plant. Meanwhile, skiers and riders state wide are probably noticing an increased presence of herbal lift lines and "smoke monsters" in the trees.

Despite the state's recent moves for legalization, the Forest Service prohibits the use of marijuana in ski areas, and public use of marijuana in general is still illegal. Although the safety concerns surrounding pot use and recreational sports are relatively clear, many resorts remain divided on whether or not to enforce weed related restrictions.

Taking a stance

Arapahoe Basin has taken measures to enforce a zero-tolerance policy against marijuana use this season. The resort's CEO Al Henceroth released this statement shortly after the resort opened:

A-Basin is a public place and you cannot smoke marijuana here. Already I have kicked several people out of here and taken their ski passes for smoking in public. Those passes will be gone for a very long time. We will not hesitate to call the cops on this issue.

Henceroth's stance on the matter reflects the often overlooked reality that while Amendment 64 allows recreational use of marijuana, it does not allow for public use of the drug.

Leaving it to the officials

With snow reports and visitors on the uptick, some resorts have chosen to focus their patrol's duties elsewhere. Wolf Creek ski area announced during the 2012/13 season that they would be leaving enforcement of the law to Forest Service officers. With officers regularly patrolling resorts both openly and undercover, Wolf Creek believes that their ski patrollers should be free to do their jobs without worrying about busting pot smokers.

For resorts like Wolf Creek, the emphasis remains on informing rather than enforcing -- and the Forest Service seems to agree. Colorado Forest Service official Paul Cruz declared that "It's not their job to enforce federal regulations. It's their job to inform."

The point? Safety.

The issue of marijuana use and snowsports is worth serious consideration. Many mountain enthusiasts view smoking pot as a type of sacramental act that goes hand-in-hand with a day on the slopes. Others don't get the point of why anyone would need additional stimulation during a sport that is already so awesome and radical. Regardless of your perspective on this issue, FreshyMap hopes that you'll continue to honor your fellow skiers and riders by riding safely and responsibly.

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