Smoking pot in Washington state is now legal. Well, kind of anyway.
Washington and Colorado became the first two states to decriminalize and regulate the possession of pot in the Nov. 6 election.
Following passage of Measure 502 in the Washington election, the state law is now in effect. However, the new law only allows marijuana to be smoked inside, and doing so in public is still subject to a $100 fine.
So if skiers or snowboarders think they can smoke pot at Washington ski resorts, they better think twice before lighting up a joint or a bowl.
Many of Washington state’s ski resorts are located on federal land. Smoking weed is still illegal under federal law – so visitors need to be careful not to bring any to national parks or forests or when they ski or ride at a resort operated on federal land.
Washington ski resorts Crystal Mountain, Summit at Snoqualmie, Stevens Pass, Mount Baker, White Pass, Mission Ridge, Ski Bluewood and 49 Degrees North are all situated on federal land.
“Our ski resort – 49° North – is in the middle of a national forest and on federal land, making the use and distribution of marijuana illegal in our area,” said 49° North spokesperson Sherry Brewer.
Marijuana is still illegal under United States law, through the Controlled Substances Act. Washington state residents could face a crackdown by federal agents from the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency.
“Measure 502 recently passed in Washington, clearly states that it is not allowed to open a package of marijuana in public, so smoking it in designated smoking areas is therefore not allowed,” said Stevens Pass administrative coordinator Cindy Jackson.
“It is also important to note that Stevens Pass is located on Federal land and of course the Federal law still views marijuana as illegal. I’m sure this detail may be lost on some guests that will not have educated themselves on the details of the measure and think it is acceptable to smoke marijuana anywhere,” added Jackson.
According to Guy Lawrence at the Summit at Snoqualmie, there has been no sign of increased pot smoking in the early season.
“We haven’t noticed anything different at this point,” said Lawrence, the marketing and sales director. “There are no visible signs of people’s behavior changing thus far. Mind you, we only just got open recently so there’s not a lot to go on.”
At Stevens Pass, smoking weed is thought of as similar to drinking.
“We view marijuana in many respects the same way that we do alcohol consumption or smoking in public areas, it is not allowed,” Jackson said. “But we do have a designated cigarette smoking area for employees and guests alike.
“With all this said, staff at Stevens Pass are not law enforcement, though if and when we are directly confronted with a person showing a lack of respect for other people in a public setting, they will be asked or told to stop,” added Jackson.
Stevens Pass has definitely informed its employees that smoking pot will not be tolerated.
“Regarding employees, our policies are strict. It states that no employee is allowed to use, sell, posses, distribute or be under the influence of illegal or unauthorized drugs while on the job,” Jackson explained. “It is a topic that was clearly covered with incoming employees for this season.”