Why Don't Colorado Ski Resorts Allow Marijuana? | Westword
Navigation

Ask a Stoner

Why Don't Ski Resorts Allow Marijuana?

Smoking weed on the slopes isn't uncommon, even if it is banned.
Cartoon man smokes a joint
Westword
Share this:
Dear Stoner: Why don't any ski resorts allow marijuana smoking?
Stoned on the Slopes

Dear Slopes: There are a lot of layers to the lack of cannabis hospitality in Colorado, and ski resorts haven't shown any more discrimination than the majority of hotels, lodging and other recreation services. They largely blame the lack of marijuana consumption accommodations on a mixture of federal prohibition, insurance policies and smoking laws, as well as local laws that ban establishments allowing social pot use. Those are legitimate arguments to fall back on, but it really all comes down to money.

As fun as it would be to hang out in a weed lounge at the resort or a fully licensed and staffed smoke shack on the mountain, neither of those are lucrative enough for massive corporations like Vail Resorts to risk their real cash cows. It's a lot easier to maintain the status quo by officially banning cannabis use while looking the other way when it's consumed, which is how most concert venues and other hospitality businesses approach it — as long as you're not an asshole about it.
click to enlarge A marijuana leaf in the snow
Smoking weed on the slopes isn't uncommon in Colorado, even if it is banned.
Flickr/Jurassic Blueberries
Since the resorts won't allow cannabis use, it would be nice if the surrounding towns had options for visitors. But while there are plenty of ski towns with dispensaries, cannabis-friendly businesses are few and far between across Colorado, because few local governments allow such businesses and state laws ban alcohol sales at any establishment permitted for cannabis use.

The short list of towns and counties allowing such businesses implement a long list of restrictions, whether it be location buffer zones or overly strict rules for smoking. The Town of Dillon — a short drive from Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Copper Mountain, Keystone Mountain and the Loveland Ski Area — actually approved cannabis lounges in 2020, but not one has opened yet. Black Hawk and Central City, two mountain towns known for legal gambling and Old West saloons, also approved social pot consumption at licensed venues years ago, but nothing has come of it. Even in Denver, we have just one permitted pot lounge, and it only allows vaping and edibles.

You'll probably have to keep waiting until federal legalization, my friend, and then a few more years after. Get a trusty rosin pen for the slopes until then, and keep candles and Febreze on hand when smoking inside the lodge.

Send questions to [email protected].
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. Your membership allows us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls. You can support us by joining as a member for as little as $1.