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Thursday December 15, 2016

By Michael Walters


So what’s the score on the slopes of Colorado? For years, ski bums, baggy-trousered boarders, and holiday jet setters were green with envy when they set eyes on the Centennial State’s knee-high drifts of champagne powder. Now they’re envious that the green is legal. Cannabis tourism is a booming industry in the state of Colorado, and when combined with the state’s traditional ski culture – ski towns posted record sales tax revenue during 2014-2015 – Colorado becomes a hybrid travel destination offering a unique strain of tourism where getting lifted is just as important as where the chair lift takes you.

As Hunter S. Thompson might say: We were somewhere around Boulder on the edge of the alpine glow, when the cannabis began to take hold. The ski culture in Colorado is definitely a serious affair, and as the cannabis community continues to grow, one question remains uncertain. How can you safely consume cannabis on your ski adventure? While there are many ways to answer, we’ve decided to break it down for you so you can be prepared and know what to expect.

Ski Culture and Cannabis Consumption

If the beach bum has a love affair with cold and frothy blender drinks, a la Margaritaville, then the ski bum has an affinity for cannabis. Ask any ski town local from Colorado to the Green Mountains of Vermont and they’ll tell you that cannabis has always been an integral part of ski culture, with many enthusiasts replacing the cliché steaming mug of Swiss hot chocolate with an after-ski spliff. While cannabis has become somewhat of a norm within the skiing community, it is still important to understand that responsible consumption is a critical aspect of having a great time and not disturbing others.

Cannabis consumption has always been a subculture of ski culture. Think of it as the black metal of Scandinavia’s heavy metal scene, or trance or house music in the greater EDM phenomena. Breckenridge was dubbed the “Amsterdam of the Rockies" way back in 2009. And the toke of the town at the Telluride Film Festival always concerns… (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) the green room. Most importantly, skiers have long worn oversized geometric or snowflake-designed sweaters, Nordic apparel that looks less like it’s “made of wool” and more like an unshorn baby sheep, a style, along with those wraparound cyborg sunglasses, deemed stylish only after enthusiastic cannabis consumption. In other words, since Colorado legalized adult-use cannabis in 2014, little has really changed other than the green rush of tourists. The hills are alive with the sound of music.

A snowglobe with a cannabis leaf inside and reads 'Legalize It'

How to Include Cannabis in a Colorado Ski Adventure

Despite Colorado’s reputation as the wild west of weed, public consumption of marijuana remains illegal. No, pot sellers aren’t lurking on every corner of Colorado’s ski resorts, and the gondolas aren’t painted with merry prankster rainbows. Moreover, cannabis consumption is also illegal on federal lands, and most of the state’s ski areas lease federal land for their runs, which makes consuming pot in chair lift lines, gondolas, and on the trails illegal. Whether cannabis enthusiasts get their ski passes revoked, receive a warning or an indifferent shrug for consuming in public depends on the resort. Still, don’t throw caution to the wind and pull a 2-foot bong out of the inner lining of your jacket while riding on the chair lift.  For every skier who wants to use cannabis throughout their skiing adventure, there’s someone like Lynn Farrell, president of Windy City Travel and mother of four. “Who wants to ski where everybody is stoned?” Farrell told USA Today. “It’s a concern.” What does this mean for residents and tourists who want to include cannabis in their Colorado ski adventure? It means discretion is of the highest order. 

Edibles and vape pens are the most discreet and tactful methods to incorporate cannabis into your Colorado adventure. Pesky ski patrol watchdogs won't be able to smell the marijuana, and you don't run the risk of offending any families or exposing young kids to a drug still considered dangerous and illegal at the federal level. Discretion is the essence of neighborliness and common courtesy. One good turn for another makes everyone happy and turns the ski slope into a western paradise.  

Skiing, Cannabis, and the Pursuit of Hygge

Hygge” is a Danish word with no single, literal English translation. Its broadest definition is coziness, warmth, and belonging. In other words, hygge is like a warm, comfortable ski lodge after a long day on the slopes, a fire roaring in a big stone hearth, bowls of warm soup and family and friends gathered around in lively conversation. Hygee is also the feeling you get when you combine skiing and cannabis. You belong to the mountain and the moment. Whether it’s an energized, invigorating double-diamond run heightened by a motivating strain of sativa, or the cerebral mellowness of carving slow-motion turns through knee-high powder after the mellow glow of an indica strain kicks in, skiing and cannabis go together like boots and bindings. Hygge is what makes skiing in Colorado unforgettable.

There's no business like snow business, unless, of course, it's the snow and cannabis business. Call it a joint venture. Now is the time for a long, strange trip on Colorado's trails.

How do you like to indulge on the slopes? What’s your favorite strain for skiing/snowboarding?

Photo Credit: Snow Snow



Michael Walters Michael Walters

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric, Michael started his journey in the cannabis industry managing content, communications, and technical writing for one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains. In 2016, Michael pivoted to the ancillary sector to become PotGuide's Content Manager and was responsible for overseeing all of PotGuide’s editorial endeavors and content marketing strategies. Now, Michael is PotGuide's Director of Content & Marketing, focusing his efforts toward new educational content and exciting media endeavors.

With a life-long passion for cannabis knowledge and education, Michael devoted himself to becoming a subject matter expert on marijuana at an early age. Now, Michael has worked in the marijuana industry for over four years helping break down negative stigma and promoting safe cannabis practices. An avid consumer himself, Michael has worked tirelessly to improve content marketing strategies for cannabis businesses and is devoted to creating meaningful content that is useful to a wide variety of marijuana consumers. Follow Michael on LinkedIn and Instagram for updates and insights.

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