Marijuana Moves Into the Open in a Ski Town
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Marijuana Moves Into the Open in a Ski Town
Posted by CN Staff on November 14, 2009 at 06:23:40 PT
By Kirk Johnson
Source: New York Times
Breckenridge, Colo. -- High-altitude partying is a deeply carved tradition in ski country, where alcohol in the open and illicit drugs in the shadows have been intertwined for years.Even before last week’s town vote here that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, one of the best-selling T-shirts at Shirt and Ernie’s on Main Street winked at what it means to live and play 9,600 feet up in the Rockies. “Dude,” the shirt says, “I think this whole town is high.”
But what the town’s drug ordinance could mean for the local culture and economy, as well as its potential impact on the resort industry if more ski towns go Breckenridge’s way, has become part of the discussion as people scan the skies and wait for snow.For business owners ever vigilant about the town’s image, safety-minded resort managers and footloose ski and snowboard vagabonds whose ranks have given towns like this a tinge of wildness since the first ski bum washed a dish or waited a table, marijuana is openly discussed as perhaps never before.The leader of the group that organized the petition drive leading to the vote, Sensible Colorado, said that Breckenridge, where 71 percent of voters approved the marijuana measure on Election Day, was the opening salvo in a town-by-town strategy toward the goal of a vote on statewide legalization within a few years.Local efforts, said the group’s founder and chairman, Sean T. McAllister, are now organizing or under way in two other Colorado resort towns, Durango and Aspen. After the election, Mr. McAllister said, people in Montana and Washington called seeking advice on starting voter initiatives.Breckenridge’s part-time mayor, Dr. John Warner, a dentist who voted against the measure but remained publicly neutral before the election, said the three dozen or so e-mail messages he had received since the vote had been mixed.About half of the messages were negative, Dr. Warner said, and included comments from people who said they had canceled reservations and would never come back. Other respondents said they were thrilled about the town’s vote and could hardly wait to visit and spend some money.State and federal law still make marijuana possession a crime in Colorado, but residents here say that local enforcement has not been a high police priority.A spokeswoman for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber of Commerce, Carly Grimes, said she thought that because of those other laws, little would change. But she said that some chamber members were concerned about perceptions — that the statute could send a message of broader drug tolerance that could turn off visiting families, who remain a cornerstone of the economic base.“This is not going to become a little Amsterdam,” she said, referring to the Dutch capital, an international symbol of libertarian drug use.At Vail Resorts, a publicly traded company that owns the Breckenridge resort, a spokeswoman said she expected no change in management practices.The spokeswoman, Kelly Ladyga, said that resort employees were already trained to be “hypervigilant” in watching people for dangerous behavior from drugs or alcohol and that the company reserved the right to test any employee for drugs if “reasonable suspicions” are raised or an accident occurs.“We’re a family-friendly resort, and together with the town we remain committed to delivering an exceptional guest experience,” Ms. Ladyga said. “Boarding a lift or using a slope or trail while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited.”At Home for the Holidays, a year-round Christmas store, the manager, M. Musso, who asked that only her first initial be used, said her customers tended to be older and more conservative. The young and the rowdy, who crowd the bars when the lifts close, usually do not shop for Christmas baubles, she said.“I don’t think that’s the type of person we want flocking into Breckenridge,” said Ms. Musso, who opposed the ordinance.But it is also easy to find people like Chelsey Vogt, a 21-year-old snowboarder originally from upstate New York who foresees what she calls change for the better — from local marijuana users’ becoming more open and comfortable to pot-smoking visitors drawn by the town’s new stance.“It’s been here forever,” said Ms. Vogt, who works for a property maintenance company when not on the mountain. “Now people can just be more comfortable walking down the street having some marijuana in their pocket — definitely including me.”One Town Council member who supported the ballot measure, Jeffrey J. Bergeron, said he thought history had played a role in assembling a majority of voters. Mr. Bergeron, who has lived in Breckenridge for nearly 30 years, said many longtime residents vividly remembered the 1970s and 1980s, when cocaine use became a rage and then a scourge, destroying lives and businesses before fading in the 1990s. Through that lens, he said, marijuana looks comparatively benign.But Mr. Bergeron said he had not expected a backlash, and he now worries that business could take a hit.“It was a gesture in the right direction,” he said. “I just wish some other town had done it.”Whether the new measure will lead to more accidents on the slopes is anyone’s guess.Colorado is one of the few states whose legal codes specify that collisions between skiers are not a natural risk of the sport. The provision, passed by the legislature in 1990, imposes what lawyers call a higher standard of care and potential legal liability upon skiers who cause accidents than do most other states with big resort industries.James H. Chalat, a lawyer in Denver who specializes in personal injury and ski cases, said that of the hundreds of lawsuits stemming from skiing accidents handled by his firm, Chalat Hatten & Koupal, over 29 years, marijuana had been a factor in only one collision between two skiers.Alcohol, on the other hand, has often been an aggravating cause, with a drunken skier or snowboarder plowing into somebody else, causing injury.In any accident, though, evidence of marijuana use would be looked at. “If somebody is stoned, that’s not helpful,” Mr. Chalat said. “It’s a dumb thing.”A version of this article appeared in print on November 14, 2009, on page A10 of the New York edition.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Kirk JohnsonPublished: November 14, 2009Copyright: 2009 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #15 posted by runruff on November 15, 2009 at 02:38:11 PT
Drug Czar, DEA et al...... gate keepers for pharma!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by Shielde on November 14, 2009 at 20:49:45 PT
Schedule I
This is a post referring to a story posted a few days ago i didn't post at the time cause i've been working a bit, but in it there was this line "In a statement, the office of the White House drug czar reiterated the administration's opposition to legalization and said that it would defer to "the FDA's judgment that the raw marijuana plant cannot meet the standards for identity, strength, quality, purity, packaging and labeling required of medicine.""the thing that caught my eye was "the raw marijuana plant cannot meet the standards for . . . packaging and labeling required of medicine". Guess the drug czar is admitting one of the reasons it isn't rescheduled is that big pharmy cannot patent the plant and sell it
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on November 14, 2009 at 18:40:27 PT
Comment 11 Runruff
"Ain't that America?"
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Comment #12 posted by Sam Adams on November 14, 2009 at 17:47:39 PT
Hope - texas
I know, it's not that long ago that Texas has a female democratic governor (Ann Richards) it seems hard to believe. it could easily swing back that way
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Comment #11 posted by runruff on November 14, 2009 at 17:24:44 PT
I saw this post over at Huffpo!
The US government recognizes that marijuana has medicinal properties (US patent law was established "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts... "):U.S. Patent No. 6630507 (Assignee: The US as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services)Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectantsAbstract:
Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. WHOOPS! The DEA says otherwise:(1) Schedule I (includes marijuana)- (A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
- (B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
- (C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
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Comment #10 posted by James Crosby on November 14, 2009 at 16:01:54 PT
This is great, but..
If you live in Oregon, please spread the word about the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act! I want Oregon to be a major leader in the cannabis movement, as our State economy is heading to shambles. have already State-wide decriminalized our cannabis use / possession laws, and I hope that Colorado heads that way someday. Although, I don't know about our paraphernalia laws.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on November 14, 2009 at 11:24:52 PT
I'd bet Breckenridge will attract more Texans than ever. Oops! Believe me, all Texans aren't like that angry woman, apparently living in Texas, that claimed to be bailing on vacationing in Breckenridge because of this vote.A lot of the people living here are like that, but a lot aren't.
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Comment #8 posted by HempWorld on November 14, 2009 at 11:10:52 PT
Democracy at work!
A rare event!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by Sam Adams on November 14, 2009 at 08:45:07 PT
Ron Paul and anyone who voted for him is always welcome in Colorado!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by RevRayGreen on November 14, 2009 at 08:42:08 PT
I just met Ron Paul and got
his autograph on an Iowans 4 Medical Marijuana flier....Don't looke now.....Chuck Grassley is being taken to task by the SSDP in todays opinion section. Please feel free to comment :)
Guest column: Let's have a rational debate on drug policy, Sen. Grassley
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on November 14, 2009 at 08:41:00 PT
who would not come to Breck because of this? Texans. As we've already discussed, no one in Colorado's going to miss a few Texans.Especially since they'll likely be replaced by friendly visitors from NJ, NY, California, etc.I know here in Mass. we're not missing the gay-haters at all. Good riddance!
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on November 14, 2009 at 07:54:21 PT
What I notice is that one reason people were against the cannabis ballot question is due to perceived negative financial implications.Never mind if caging humans for using cannabis is right or wrong. Whether or not prohibition laws ruins a neighbor's kids life. Notice:When We hear of people who write things like,"About half of the messages were negative, Dr. Warner (Breck mayor) said, and included comments from people who said they had canceled reservations and would never come back"""What We're witnessing is a certain type of personality which I deem undesirable. That is the personality of citizens who wish to punish. PUNISH.That is one of the problems with the U.S. America is too bent on punishing one another.The economy is a reality. Presently the poor economy is helping the cannabis movement. People have to decide if they want to spend the limited money available on B.S. Here is an example of something competing with Breckenridge's spending budget. Do You want government to plow Your street or cage the kid down the street who smokes a joint in His basement? What the ignorant business owner doesn't realize is that if these roads around here don't get plowed, there isn't going to be less tourists buying Christmas ornaments in December."BRECKENRIDGE — Snow plowing and removal services in Breckenridge will be reduced this winter as the town hires less seasonal staff in the face of uncertain revenue."""" don't cater to tourists who buy Christmaa ornaments in July in a tourist town.One thing I tend to do is spend My money where I believe it will not harm the cannabis movement. Not always but I do often avoid giving money and support toward business and people who support cannabis prohibition.I also avoid staunch Republicans like dirty T.P.So this snotty attitude with some types of people who now avoid Breck due to it's new law goes both ways.I'm not denying My business to those who who support prohibition out of a need to punish but rather a strategic move toward bettering the planet.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on November 14, 2009 at 07:32:07 PT
It made me think of this song that I love.Crosby Stills Nash - A Long Time Gone - Woodstock 1969
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Comment #2 posted by mydnytmover on November 14, 2009 at 07:23:20 PT
Yes it has,, feels good
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 14, 2009 at 06:29:12 PT
We Are Becoming Mainstream
It's been a long time coming.
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