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

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

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. Henceroth's followup post was accurately entitled "Controversial." Here's what he wrote the second time around:

Well that last post certainly generated some conversation. As I wrote it I knew it would be controversial. The new law is creating changes and adjustments. The wide breadth of all our comments shows what a complicated issue this is in our culture. While there were people supportive of my comments, others were deeply offended. A couple of people asked me to do things that are anatomically impossible. I think the debate is rich and we are all better for it. Between this blog and Facebook, hundreds of people weighed in. Those comments certainly triggered many thoughts with me. Here are just a few.

Regarding the guys who lost their passes, my comments were a bit heavy. When I came upon them they were smoking a joint at the top of the lift with a bunch of kids nearby. I think most people would agree with me that they needed to go away for a while.

I sincerely apologize to anyone I offended. That was not my intention. Many people read things into my comments that were not there. If I could rewrite my post, it would simply read, "Colorado's new law legalizes limited marijuana use. Consumption in public is not allowed. A-Basin is a public place."

That said, I am confident we can keep the vibe and the culture of A-Basin alive. I hope we can all enjoy this great place realizing the new law does not allow people to smoke pot in the lift lines, on the deck, in the restaurant, and other public places. I hope all of you will keep skiing and riding at The Basin.

A similar mix of comments to the initial batch followed Henceroth's second item. Some expressed gratitude, including this one:

Thank you Al. I will not smoke marijuana on the lift line, bar or anywhere where I'm visible.

Others ranged from humorous, as seen here....

Saturday night 11 p.m. post from the COO = shit, that last post was bad for business.

...to posts that raised other related subjects:


Regarding the gents/ladies who lost their passes, did you at least give them a warning and ask them to stop before you yanked their passes? That would be fair.

And I totally agree with the other commenters about all the drunk people skiing down the mountain. Kinda silly you allow that to occur but not harmless smoking.

Expect more issues like these to arise over the course of this ski season, since plenty of people from in state and out don't appear to fully understand the public pot-smoking prohibition and resorts are still figuring out the best ways to deal with those who violate the edict.

Continue for more photos of opening day at Arapahoe Basin. Continue for more photos of opening day at Arapahoe Basin. Continue for more photos of opening day at Arapahoe Basin.

More from our Photos archive: "Photos of the Day: Snowing at Winter Park, Arapahoe Basin opening day highlights."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.