Marijuana: Arapahoe Basin exec stirs debate with warning about public pot smoking

As William Breathes has reported, many ski towns are allowing recreational pot sales. But that doesn't mean public weed smoking is any more legal at resorts than it is elsewhere in Colorado.

Still, the idea that ski areas will crack down on those who light up in plain view definitely stirs emotions, as Arapahoe Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth (seen here) discovered when he wrote about it not once but twice this weekend. See his posts and some of the passionate reactions to them below.

Arapahoe Basin was the first ski area in Colorado to open for the season. We recently shared a slew of photos from the big day and have included many of them below.

Some of the folks taking advantage of the early opening enjoy firing up judging by a short item Henceroth placed on his blog Saturday under the heading "Marijuana." The post reads:
For good or bad, Colorado is notorious for the passing of Amendment 64 legalizing limited marijuana usage. I recently saw Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly making fun of Coloradans on The Daily Show. A very important piece of the new law clearly states that marijuana usage in public is still illegal. A-Basin is a public place and you cannot smoke marijuana here.

Already I have kicked several people out of here and taken their ski passes for smoking in public. Those passes will be gone for a very long time. We will not hesitate to call the cops on this issue.

Marijuana smokers, please use your heads on this. You cannot smoke marijuana in public while at A-Basin.

What followed was an avalanche of comments -- more than 150 at this writing. Some of them offered support for Henceroth. Here's a sampling of three positive reactions:
Post one: Thank you Al!!!! And as one with Asthma sometime also remind guests that smoking anytime on the lifts and mazes is against Summit County law an subject to a fine . I have been close to needing to call ski patrol for emer Oxygen service after having smoke blow back during a lift ride.
Post two: Thank you for taking some initiative towards this. I was on the mountain this morning and the entire park smelled like weed the whole time I was there. There were at least 2-3 people smoking in the trees at any given time.

I'm not against weed or the legalization of it, but turning public places into smoke spots is not cool.

Thanks again!

Post three:


Thank you! You re-affirmed my decision to buy an Arapahoe Basin Passes for myself and my family. I can't wait to hit the slopes!

However, other readers were unhappy with Henceroth's announcement. Here are three examples:
Post one: Wow I'm surprised. Pulling peoples passes and ruining their season before it even starts? Over weed? Come on. I think I'll wait to start my season somewhere else after seeing this.
Post two: As the whole state goes to pot, leave it to the ski hills to keep the dream of prohibition alive. This from a hill that prides itself on a very strong bloody mary alcohol breakfast as a trademark.
Post three: Shielding children from adult activities is one thing but pulling passes for weed... when it's legal in the state?! Always been a huge abay supporter but this seems pretty hypocritical, and not all helpful to those who are MM patients or recreational users. If you want anyone to listen to this advice I would try to set forth a realistic policy other than "we'll call the cops." Maybe I'll call the cops next time I see people getting on skis when they leave the bar or light up a cigarette. Not the way to get people on your side about this, disappointing this kind of close-mindedness is going on. Intolerance in any form is ugly and ineffective guys, lets try to get along here together somehow....
Among the readers of these comments was Henceroth, who quickly followed with another blog entry on the same topic, with this one sporting a conciliatory tone.

Continue for more about public marijuana smoking and Arapahoe Basin, including photos.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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