Legal marijuana and X Games a natural match
CARBONDALE —In a small storefront located above a Mexican restaurant, a signed photo of John Elway hangs between a lopsided two-dollar bill and a clock with the number “420” emblazoned in green in the background. Behind the counter stands James Leonard, manager and one of the owners of Doctor’s Garden, a marijuana dispensary in Carbondale.
Doctor’s Garden is the nearest dispensary to Aspen, host of the Winter X Games, that is licensed to sell recreational marijuana.
A snowboarder and recreational smoker himself, Leonard said that marijuana usage is part of the “snowboarder counter-culture” and while he has no way to quantify it, he said that his sales have increased with the X Games about 30 miles away.
The third-story storefront has seen lines snake through the store, out the door, and down the stairs since it started selling recreational marijuana on Jan. 15. Doctor’s Garden previously sold medical marijuana.
Many of the people standing in line are headed to the Winter X Games, Leonard said. While Buttermilk Mountain, the site of the Winter X Games, allows no smoking or alcohol of any kind, Leonard said that some attendees bring marijuana.
“There’s been a ton of people coming here that are heading to Aspen for the X Games,” Leonard said. “A bunch of the people we’ve talked to said they came right down here, first thing, right after they flew in. People from all over, different countries, coming here before heading to the games.
“I’d be curious to see how people were behaved at the games while they’re high. It would be a good indicator of the social ailments of marijuana compared to other things like alcohol.” Snow Safari, a winter sports video production company based in Sydney, Australia, and working out of Los Angeles, made the trip to the Winter X Games to film events.
The first place the production crew stopped after flying in from Denver was a dispensary in Breckenridge, producer Matt King said. King, 23, said the line was so long that they didn’t make it inside, but the group stopped at Doctor’s Garden before driving to Aspen.
He also said that the relative indifference involving marijuana at the Winter X Games mirrors that of “snow culture,” a nickname for athletes and enthusiasts of extreme winter sports.
“It’s a really good time,” King said. “Everyone seems to be having fun and no one seems to be naysaying on you or anything if you smoke a couple bowls. No one’s going to tell you off for smoking a joint, and it’s like it’s more acceptable than smoking a cigarette. It seems like everyone has a much more negative image of that than marijuana. If you’re in the middle of a crowd, it’s almost like people will give you high-fives for smoking it.”
Robb Wojcik, another producer for Snow Safari, said he saw competitors smoking in the athletes’ parking lot. While 20-year-olds are legally not allowed to purchase recreational marijuana, Wojcik agreed with King’s assessment of the acceptability of marijuana at Winter X.
“I went through the athletes’ car-park and there were a couple athletes toking up themselves,” Wojcik said. “I don’t know if it was before or after the event. But yeah, it’s really accepted here.”
Wojcik said there’s a draw for tourists to purchase marijuana while in Colorado. It’s easily accessible, he said, and that the mentality surrounding marijuana differs from Australia.
“Everyone is just so chill about it out here,” Wojcik said. “It’s out in the open, and you’re not doing it in someone’s basement. In Australia, it’s viewed as an actual drug and the police can come take you away and the like. You’re almost like a drug addict if you have it.”
Max Parrot, who won a gold medal in slopestyle snowboarding Saturday, said that he doesn’t smoke marijuana because of Olympic drug testing, as he will compete in February with Team Canada in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Parrot added that he doesn’t believe marijuana use is widespread among snowboarders and skiers, but that marijuana should be legalized worldwide.
“Preparing for the Olympics, I’m not taking marijuana,” Parrot said. “But I’m actually with Colorado on legalizing it. It’s life — you only get one and you can do whatever you want. Marijuana is not a bad thing. It’s like alcohol, it’s the same thing. I think (the stigma surrounding marijuana use) is a bad thing, and I think it will be legal pretty soon everywhere.”
Bob Ticer, of Eagle, brought his children Wade, 16, and Jake 12, to the Winter X Games. He said that while he doesn’t advocate the use of any of drug, good parenting can keep children from receiving the wrong impression about marijuana. Ticer said that while he smelled marijuana once on Saturday at the games, he doesn’t believe marijuana is embedded in the culture of winter extreme sports.
“There are some kids that (smoke marijuana) that snowboard, but there a lot of them that don’t,” Ticer said. “I think that’s cool and I think that’s what we need to talk about. I don’t think anyone, especially kids, should be smoking it. But I think any parent is going to have to watch out for their kids at any event you go to, and in life. Make sure they’re staying away from that drug, or any drug, really. Even alcohol, any of it. If you’re hanging out with them at these things, you’re parenting and helping steer them away from that kind of thing.”
Follow Matt Meyer on Twitter @jmattmeyer.