Will skiers and snowboarders at Colorado ski resorts soon be lighting up joints in the same nonchalant fashion that they do with cigarettes?
The possibility looms after Colorado passed a statewide measure (Amendment 64) this November, making pot smoking legal.
But the unknown is how the U.S. Department of Justice will handle marijuana usage in Colorado and the state of Washington, which also made pot smoking legal.
Possessing and selling weed are still against the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act. The federal government could ultimately sue the two states, forcing the issue of whether states’ laws can counter federal laws.
The Feds could also choose to press criminal charges against anyone who has marijuana or is growing, selling, or distributing the drug.
So what happens right now when a skier or snowboarder decides to light up a joint or loads up a bowl of pot at a Colorado ski resort?
Here’s what some Colorado ski resorts are saying about the implications.
Winter Park/Mary Jane
Steve Hurlbert, Public Relations and Communications Manager
“Basically, Amendment 64 allows for the possession of marijuana, but the law specifically states that public use is still prohibited, so in essence it really doesn’t impact us at all
“Plus, there are still some legal hurdles to be cleared with respect to the federal government before Amendment 64 takes full effect, which could impact how exactly the law is enforced and which could take months to iron out.”
“What we’re seeing here is that it’s been blown a little out of proportion by the media and has had little or no effect to most people’s day-to-day lives.”
“It’s business as usual here – albeit with a lot more ‘Mary Jane’ jokes.”
Erica Reiter, public relations & communications manager
“It is still too early to really know what the effects will be for the ski industry. Smoking marijuana is not quite legal yet in Colorado. There are still a number of steps before Amendment 64 goes into full effect, such as regulation, taxation and distribution.
“We also have to keep in mind that it is still illegal on the Federal level, also furthering the “unknown” of it all. As we learn more, we will definitely be on the forefront of properly managing the new law in areas that will affect our operations.”
Aspen Ski Company: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, Buttermilk
Jeff Hanle, director of public relations
“We do not expect anything to change for us. I don’t know the full details of the law yet, nor does anyone from what I can tell. But from what I have heard, it will not be legal to smoke pot in public.”
“There will be an age requirement, like alcohol as well. It will be legal to possess a small amount, to grow at home, etc. Once there is more clarity on the law, it will still be up to the police to enforce, not private companies.”
Austyn Williams, public relations
“With Amendment 64 passing, Copper Mountain will be standing by our Drug-Free Workplace policy and as always we will strive for a family friendly environment at our resort. Copper operates on public lands and therefore has a relationship with the U.S. Forest Service and federal guidelines in matters such as this; and marijuana is still considered illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.”
“With this amendment just recently passing it’s too soon to see how the amendment will affect, if at all, the industry. Copper Mountain will evaluate the new law and our handling of it, like many other businesses and communities, once we have more information on how it will be implemented.”
Vail Resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge ski resorts in
Company policy document
“State laws decriminalizing marijuana have no impact on our Company policy prohibiting the possession or use of marijuana at work, being under the influence of marijuana at work, or having any detectable level of marijuana in your system.”
“Colorado has decriminalized the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for personal consumption, by people 21 years of age or older. However, it is still illegal to consume marijuana in public and we will not allow guests to consume or smoke marijuana on any of our mountains or in any of our establishments.”
The Vail Resorts document says ski resort employees who see a guest smoking pot “should immediately notify security, mountain safety or ski patrol and share as much information as you can, including the location and description of the guest. You should follow this same process anytime you observe unsafe or unlawful behavior at any of our resorts.”