Colorado Is Open for Skiing — But Not for Public Consumption of Cannabis

With the opening of Arapahoe Basin on October 21, the new ski season is officially under way. But while the state is open for skiing, it is not open for public pot consumption. In fact, a search for the words "marijuana" and "cannabis" on Colorado Ski Country USA's website comes up empty. 

Although recreational cannabis use is legal in Colorado, it is not legal on the slopes — which are all on federal land.  Beyond that, skiing under the influence of drugs or alcohol is also a violation of the Colorado Ski Safety Act. If a skier is found engaging in such activities, the fine can be up to $1,000.

At the Governor's Colorado Tourism Conference last month, Denise Miller, executive vice president of Pennsylvania-based Strategic Marketing and Research Insights, which studied Colorado's Come to Life campaign, noted that while many Colorado tourists smoke marijuana and also ski, they don't necessarily do both when they visit this state.

"In many ways, their trips are similar to other Colorado trips," she said of marijuana smokers. "When I started looking into this, I thought it might be fairly different, but it's not. Forty three percent of them ski. Overall, about 56 percent of the people who come here ski."  While the percentage of tourists who ski and use marijuana is high, only 12 percent of tourists who visit the state use marijuana, according to data presented at the conference.

When it does address the issue, Colorado Ski Country USA asks tourists who want to use cannabis to find marijuana-friendly housing options and not to partake in 4/20 activities in public, at a resort or on the slopes.

In its winter guide, Colorado Ski Country featured a "Did you know" blurb explaining that ski resorts are family-friendly public areas, and that while there are many places around the state where tourists can purchase cannabis, consumption is not allowed at ski resorts. 

"Public consumption of marijuana is illegal, and all areas of ski resorts — including lifts, trails, parking lots, restaurants, decks, patios, etc. — are public places, so no consumption is allowed," says Chris Linsmayer, public-affairs manager for Colorado Ski Country USA. 
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Kate McKee Simmons interned at the National Catholic Reporter, was a reporter for the New York Post, and spent a brief stint in Israel learning international reporting before writing for Westword.