A Look at Cannabis Consumption at American Ski Areas

John Cunningham | | BrainsBrains
Cannabis and skiing
“Want to smoke some devil’s lettuce on the ganjala (gondola) ride up bro?” | Image: Adam Drury/GreenRushDaily

When visiting ski resorts in places like California and Colorado, the obvious, skunky aroma of cannabis can be smelled nearly anywhere around the mountain, and just about anytime (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration). From parking lots and lift-lines on the west coast, to the middle of nowhere while cruising through the glades in Vermont or Michigan, cannabis around the United States has recently become much more accepted, and even more noticeable while out enjoying a day on the slopes.

In the last five to ten years, both medical and recreational cannabis use has sky-rocketed across the country, and, perhaps coincidentally, in states that have direct access to ski resorts. That second part, of course, is just an observation. However, the conscious and free-minded, one-with-nature-and-the-Earth feelings and mentality that comes from skiing and snowboarding has many similarities with the comparable mindset from cannabis.

Map of cannabis states and states with ski resorts
These maps have a striking resemblance. | Image: MJBizDaily  and SnowPak


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On the Slopes

Skiing and snowboarding alone can provide natural feelings of mental clarity, focus, presentness, and stillness. The feeling of ‘flow state’ or that ‘in the zone” feeling while on the snow, can be greatly enhanced for some people from using cannabis before or while skiing and snowboarding. Increased euphoria, energy, motivation, and creativity are just a few common effects from certain cannabis strains that can positively contribute (for some) to an exhilarating riding experience. On the other hand, some individuals may go skiing and consume cannabis to feel calmer, looser, more at-ease, and relaxed, while maintaining the ability to stay focused on shredding, the surrounding environment, and of course, safety.

For many people, connecting their experiences from cannabis with a day on the slopes, whether solo, riding with friends or interacting with strangers, is ritualistic. Seven time X Games gold medalist and Freeride World Tour competitor Tanner Hall told The New Yorker back in 2016,

“If you’ve ever skied on a powder day, you know you’re gonna stop in the trees at least two or three times a day to smoke a joint because of how good the snow is and how good a day it is. It brings you and your friends together. You give thanks to the mountain and the day and have a little meditation and just keep on ripping. It’s been a part of skiing for a long time.”

Cannabis and skiing
Cannabis can enhance the experience on the slopes, or totally throw it off. | Image: Billo Premium Cannabis

Off the Slopes

There is no doubt that skiing and snowboarding can take a physical toll on one’s body. During recovery and rehabilitation, skiers and snowboarders are often in need of pain relief, inflammation reduction, promoting bone and muscle growth, and a good night of sleep. Research has found that well known cannabinoids like THC and CBD can be effective in treating acute and chronic pain as well as inflammation. Lesser known, minor-cannabinoids like CBG and CBC, show bone-growth promoting properties among a slew of other physical and neurological benefits. CBN, the sleepy cannabinoid, can be extremely beneficial for those struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep.

The ‘entourage effect’ suggests that all of these cannabinoids work to their full potential when used in conjunction with all of the other cannabinoids and terpenes (aromas) found in cannabis. Rather than turning to man-made, addiction-forming opiates, skiers and snowboarders looking for relief could instead further their education on cannabis and learn how it could potentially work for them.

Psychoactive vs non-psychoactive cannabinoids and potential benefits. | Image: Chemistry Cannabis


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In the Industry

While to some this all may sound like rainbows and peace signs, cannabis remains federally illegal, and nearly 60% of ski resorts in the United States are located on National Forest land. Therefore, consumption at most ski resorts is still illegal even in states where cannabis is legal recreationally, medicinally, or decriminalized. In 2021, California ski resort China Peak, located in the Sierra National Forest, posted a PSA to their Instagram (with a quick rebuttal), warning mountain goers of new parking lot and lift enforcement for any cannabis use. On the contrary, in 2023 Michigan ski resort Mount Bohemia offered complimentary lift tickets (with some restrictions) for showing proof of purchase from any Lume dispensary in the state.

In Conclusion

There is no doubt that cannabis and skiing is now nearly as prevalent in America as on-mountain or après-ski beers or cocktails. It should be noted that just like any psychoactive substance, consuming cannabis can have adverse effects for some people, possibly negatively contributing to their skiing or snowboarding experience. Nonetheless, people of all legal ages, from all demographics, have started to understand and show interest in the vast potential for the positive medicinal benefits and enjoyment that this plant has to offer.

Joint while skiing
A joint in the woods while skiing. | Image: PotGuide

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3 thoughts on “A Look at Cannabis Consumption at American Ski Areas

  1. I don’t really have any thoughts on whether it causes people to ski while impaired however the difference is I have to smell what you are smoking and it makes me physically ill. I don’t see why the rules are any different than smoking cigarettes.

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