Travel & Leisure
Cannabis Friendly Airbnb: Travel and Enjoy Your Cannabis Too!Read More
by Maggie Jay, @travelncannabis
Maybe you’ve heard it from friends time and again, or maybe it’s happened to you: you are finally in your hotel room, enjoying your first joint when there’s a banging at the door. Someone has complained about the smell and their weed-sniffing security has sniffed themselves to your hotel room door. Whether you just get a warning or you must pay their ridiculous fine, your high has been blown.
So many people have decided to avoid the hotel hassle altogether and have started booking their accommodations through Airbnb. This creative company has an abundance of options when it comes to fun and unique accommodations for travelers of all types.
We did a bit of digging and came up with a few cannabis-friendly options for canna-travelers in four of the major cities that have legalized recreational cannabis. These places are either marked as “Smoking allowed,” or we have personally contacted them to ask if it is “420 friendly.” (Just a side note, of the 15 or so accounts we did contact, only one said no. So, it never hurts to ask about a place you want to stay, just to be confident before you book.)
Check out these options for cannabis-friendly Airbnbs in Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver and Las Vegas. ♦
Your Own Space: Hot Tub in Nature in the Midst of the City, $120 nightly
This listing is more of a bed and breakfast style accommodation. With an emphasis on higher consciousness, which includes cannabis, I can feel the relaxing vibes from 1,000 miles away. Taking one of the complementary pipes for a dip in the outdoor, saltwater hot tub sounds like a perfect end to a day in Seattle. Book here.
Splurge or Share: A Cottage Fit for a Fairy King from $202 nightly
Just outside of Seattle, in Redmond, Washington sits what the host calls a “cobbage” (half cabin, half cottage). This bright and airy cobbage has a great veggie garden, free for guests to use, and it’s right on the water. See coyotes, owls and hawks in this remote-ish location while taking the paddle boat out for a spin. Book here.
Your Own Space: Shimmy Your Way into this ‘60s Pop Art from $150 nightly
Colorful with a well-thought-out design, this one to two person studio is bitchin’! The walls and floors are a fun site and the little patio is adorable. The owner is also the designer and she has two of these far-out studios. The neighborhood of Silverlake has a great hipster scene, with tons of restaurants within walking distance. Book here. This place must be some kind of special because it’s booked through November!
Splurge or Share: Downtown High Rise Starting at $324 nightly
I love the city life. And this drop dead gorgeous two-bedroom, two-bath gives you just that. Enjoy the nightlife of this bustling town, or just watch it all from the amazing views of this 36th floor condo. This listing comes with two parking spaces, making your vacation even simpler. Bring your friends along because this place houses seven! Book here.
Budget-Friendly Option: Decked Out Bedroom in DTC area from $35 nightly
This private bedroom reminds me of a cushy hotel room. Wrap up in the provided robe, grab some munchies from your munchie drawer and get ready for chill mode. This shared space is meant for one or two and smoking is allowed on the patio. Book here.
Your Own Space: Get Ritzy in the Ritz Carlton Building from $150 nightly
Another downtown stunner, this one-bedroom is in the same building as the Ritz Carlton right in downtown Denver. Enjoy shopping, nightlife, museums and more at this location. Enjoy a sunset toke on the lovely balcony to express your freedom in this great state. Book here.
Splurge or Share: Ultra Sheek Uptown Apartment with a Hot Tub from $199 nightly
Stay in this well-appointed mansion on the edge of Denver’s Capitol Hill and even throw a party. So many Airbnb hosts frown upon get-togethers, but this host encourages it. Have up to 50 people over for an evening (there’s only room for eight overnight guests) of fun on the oversized outdoor space. Or, you can just scoot on over to the pub next door, also owned by the host, and hang there in the evenings. Book here.
Your Own Space: Quiet Surrender Just Outside of the City from $108 nightly
Stay in the guest house right off the pool area and enjoy nightly BBQ and a dip in the cool waters. Wake and bake in the garden, watching the fish in the coy pond. Then take off for sightseeing and shows in the evenings. Great for up to five, this is a quiet solution to the bustling sounds of the Vegas Strip. Book here.
Splurge or Share: Bathtub with Views of the Palms from $400 nightly
Stay at Mario Andretti’s high rise right on the strip. This laid-out crib is perfect for the Vegas party animal. Have a girl’s weekend in this dope pad and blow some O’s on the wrap around balcony. Then, after a long night out, take a break at the spa downstairs, or plan a day at the pool on the sixth floor. Book here.
Sesh in the Colors of FallRead More
by Maggie Jay
Watching summer leave and autumn arrive is such a great sight. Enjoying the foliage while smoking some foliage of your own is an incredible experience. There are places all over the U.S. that boast stunning fall colors, making for the perfect smoke sesh scene.
I’ll admit, I spark up anytime I feel inspired in nature, but I must point out that it is still illegal to consume cannabis on public land and even more illegal to do so on federal land. Maybe edibles are best for these places.
Here are some of the most beautiful places to enjoy fall in a few of the adult-use states here in the U.S.
Sheep Hill. Williamstown, Massachusetts
Dairy farm, sheep farm, private ski area. Sheep Hill has been an array of things. Today, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation runs and maintains Sheep Hill. The foundation has opened Sheep Hill, and many of its buildings, to the public. It sits on 50 acres of land and is open year-round. From atop the hill, you get an awe-inspiring view of the Greylock Range. Enjoy the variety of color Massachusetts has to offer in the fall. And, since this is not federally owned land, seshing here should be pretty safe. The land is open daily from dawn until dusk, and is available for hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bird watching and more. On your way out, be sure to visit the nearby town of North Adams, named number one most stoned town in Massachusetts by roadsnacks.net. (Address: 671 Cold Spring Road Williamstown, MA 01267)
Grafton Notch State Park. Bethel, Maine
Maine is famous for its fall foliage. There’s even an official website dedicated to the yearly wonder. This northeastern state legalized recreational marijuana last year, so this will be the first autumn of legal weed. Celebrate it at Grafton Notch State Park, listed on Travel and Leisure as one of the top places to see fall foliage in Maine. Frolic through over 3,000 acres of public land while taking in the array of color. Hiking trails are abundant and vary in difficulty. There are even some backcountry trails on the land. Being a state park means that the most you’ll be facing if caught smoking here would be a fine. Since there is so much space at this park, there are plenty of places to be alone. Just be aware of your surroundings when firing up. Look for cannabis friendly lodging and great restaurants up the road in Bethel.
The Showcase Trail at Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
The West Coast doesn’t fall short on the jaw-dropping colors. Just inland of the Oregon coast, much of the state is deciduous forest. The Showcase Trail, inside Silver Falls State Park, is a great intermediate hike. You may even be able to sneak in an autumn sesh on this over eight-mile trail. Throughout the hike you will view 10 waterfalls, some over 100 feet tall. Enjoy the changing leaves of the vine maple and red alder as you puff on some dank during this challenging hike.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Arnold, California
Delight in the pinks, yellows and oranges floating against the backdrop of the blue sky while strolling through the cool autumn air in Northern California. Boasting trees over 33 feet in diameter, this is a must-see if you are visiting the NorCal area. For one of the best scenic hikes, take the Lava Bluffs Trail. Sesh to a stunning view of the North Fork of the river. Before heading to the car, be sure to visit the Pioneer Cabin tree. It’s big enough for you and a few friends to walk through together. What a trip!
There’s fall color in every state. Take a day and explore yours! Maybe you’ll find your new favorite sesh spot.
Hemp Earth’s Founder Has Soaring Aspirations for the First Hemp PlaneRead More
by DJ Reetz
Hemp is taking flight, literally. The versatile crop is getting a new opportunity to soar thanks to a project from Hemp Earth. The idea: create an airplane made primarily of hemp.
“I wanted come up with something to draw a lot of attention to what we were doing, and to hemp,” says Derek Kesek, founder of Hemp Earth. The project, still in the funding and developmental stage, is attracting a bit of buzz these days, and that’s precisely the intention of doing something this bombastic.
“I discovered no one had ever built a plane of this scale from hemp,” says Kesek. After founding Hemp Earth in 2012, Kesek began to look for opportunities to make headlines with hemp. Already an experienced entrepreneur with a socially conscious inclination, he began a foray into the hemp industry with grand ambitions of changing the world.
“I’ve always loved cannabis,” he says. “I just saw a huge opportunity.” The potential growth in the hemp industry offered not just the chance to make money, but to make the world a better place along with it. Kesek sought a way to generate buzz around his company, thinking along the lines of Richard Branson (who he has no problem comparing himself to) creating large-scale publicity by doing something daring and over the top.
“We’re running it similar to Virgin. What I’m doing is I’m building a brand by doing exciting things like building planes and eco-villages out of hemp, then sublicensing out the brand,” says Kesek.
But the wild idea of building a plane out of hemp may have been a little too radical, and when he began shopping the idea to various aeronautical designers he was met with snickers and disbelief.
“Of course they laughed at me at first,” he says. “I guess they didn’t think it could be done. They weren’t really receptive.”
After finding many disbelievers, Kesek finally stumbled upon a company in Florida willing to undertake the endeavor, and he signed them to a contract stipulating that no less than 75 percent of the plane will be made of hemp. The design calls for hemp to be used in the wings, outer shell and interior features such as seats and pillows. It even calls for engines capable of running on hemp bio fuel.
The hemp will provide all the strength of traditional construction materials, says Kesek. “It’s pretty well the same,” he says. The hemp fiber is coated in a natural resin that creates a similar rigidity and strength to fiberglass.
“Basically it’s like building a fiber glass plane, it’s the same kind of method,”
The hemp textile that will make up the outside of the plane is being sourced by Enviro Textiles in Colorado, and in addition to being comparable in strength to fiberglass it comes with the added bonus of being environmentally friendly and will be completely biodegradable along with the resin coating.
“If it did just fall into the bush, then it would just go into the ground and not affect the planet,” says Kesek.
With the plan taking shape, Kesek hopes to have the plane making its debut next spring. And the location of its initial flight is of special significance as it is the site of the first successful flight by the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
“People that were laughing at me in the beginning are now crawling back,” says Kesek. The goals of Hemp Earth to spread awareness for the wealth of applications of hemp as well as its potential for profit are closer to realization than ever before, and Kesek sees the plane as a tangible demonstration of just what hemp will offer in the near future. “When people talk they’re like, ‘hemp can do this,’ or ‘ hemp will do this.’ No, Hemp is doing this right now,” he says.
While others struggle with dogged legal battles, Kesek sees himself as the action over advocacy type — or rather, action as advocacy. Whether it’s the hemp plane or the planned eco village Kesek is putting together in Costa Rica where he plans to headquarter his company, for him a successful business is the best way to change the world.
“I’m about doing things, I’m not about resisting or fighting,” he says. “Why fight the system? Just start doing stuff.”
Sin City of SativaRead More
by DJ Reetz
The city of Las Vegas conjures images of brightly lit casinos, flashy shows filled with quasi-celebrities, magic acts, heavy drinking, strippers, bad decisions and general debauchery. It’s a destination for those with too much money and too few ideas about how to spend it, often playing host to confused tourists who find enjoyment in watching their funds quickly dwindle and purposeful maniacs who revel in the city’s excess.
If you’ve been to Vegas you know of the causal criminality that seeps from every facet of a city built by mobsters and capitalized upon by the even more ruthless gambling corporations. Walking down the street, cocktail in hand, you are likely to be solicited by the migrant card flippers passing out business cards with naked women on them who in no way represent the escorts and strippers you will reach if you dial the phone numbers that are listed on those cards. On the right dimly lit section of the strip, or maybe just off of it, you will find the purveyors of other vices, who will slide up with the sleaze and confidence of the city’s true denizens and offer you "that good nose candy" or any other substance that you would ever need to fulfill your fantasy of overindulgence, or string out your spiraling nightmare.
With a reputation such as Vegas’, one might wonder where responsible marijuana use figures in. In 2001, Nevada enacted medical marijuana legislation known as Question 9, allowing people suffering from AIDS, cachexia, cancer, glaucoma, PTSD, muscle spasms, seizures, severe nausea or pain to legally grow and consume marijuana. Unfortunately, the measure did not establish a dispensary system by which patients could purchase their medicine, leaving the cultivation to home growers, caregivers and co-ops. In 2013, the state moved to rectify this issue, creating a licensure system that would allow 66 dispensaries to operate legally in the state, and at the end of last year the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health began issuing permits to qualifying candidates. As of the writing of this article, no dispensaries were currently in operation.
This doesn’t mean that patients without access to their own grow are left wanting. Myriad delivery services continue to operate in the legal gray areas of Nevada’s law. This means that while patients can’t walk into a dispensary and choose from a selection of buds from behind a counter, they can call one of these services and have home grown marijuana delivered directly to them, provided they offer a suitable donation.
Readers here in Colorado will want to note an interesting caveat to Nevada’s law, the acceptance of medical marijuana referrals coming from other states, provided the requirements for attaining a referral in those states are similar to Nevada’s. This means holders of a Colorado red card can have access to these marijuana delivery services, it’s as easy as pulling up Weedmaps or a similar service and placing a phone call. In no time an eager representative will be at your hotel room with a selection of strains. Assumedly this also means that when the dispensaries in the state do finally open for business, out of state referrals will allow you access.
While Las Vegas won’t likely draw your tourist dollars on the basis of marijuana, medical patients will find they still have some options when visiting. However, it is important to note that harsh drug laws are still in place in Nevada, so don’t think that just because some drunk buffoon can stumble down the street with a four-foot tall beer and gamblers can poison themselves with cigarettes on the casino floor that you will be able to light up wherever you please. For the time being, it would seem that tourists are confined to shamefully blowing their hits into their hotel bathroom’s exhaust fan. But what is Vegas if not a place to roll the dice.
Colorado Tourism Hits New PeaksRead More
January 1, 2014 was a monumental day, not just for Colorado, but also for the United States. If that date does not ring a bell, it is the day that recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado. Following the passage of Amendment 64 a lot of entrepreneurs began brainstorming ways to cash in on the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Travis "Starr" Nelson is one of those entrepreneurs. Nelson is a co-founder and Marketing Director of Canna Cabins, a company based in La Veta, a small town at the base of the Spanish Peaks. Canna Cabins is dedicated to providing the true Colorado experience for its guests.
Nelson said he and his partners came up with the idea for Canna Cabins while scouting out the grounds for another venture and realized how cool it would be to provide an experience for guests.
"Cabins is a bit of an understatement, we are aiming to provide more of a luxury experience than a budget vacation for our guests" said Nelson.
Travel packages range from one to four nights in the order of: One Night Wonder (one night, $999 per person), The Weekender (two nights, $1999 per person), The Long Weekend (three nights, $2999 per person), Pure Bliss (four nights, $3999 per person) and Luxury High Life (six nights, $4999 per person). There is also the option to add extra nights at $499.
"We want to provide the true Colorado experience for our guests by providing them the options of hiking, biking, fishing, gold panning, skiing, and anything else they would like to do," said Nelson.
Canna Cabins will also offer guests the opportunity to learn about the blossoming marijuana industry by offering educational marijuana classes. There will be a variety of classes including how to grow, make tincture, make hash, cook with marijuana, and art.
It wouldn’t be a marijuana vacation without some of Colorado’s finest herb. The guests will be provided with a sample basket that will contain a variety of marijuana, edibles, concentrates, pipes, rolling papers, and lighters from around the area. Nelson said they are working with the local dispensaries to put together the best sample baskets they can provide. Guests will also be treated to tours of the local dispensaries to get the full experience of recreational marijuana.
After all of the activities (both recreational and marijuana related) the guest are sure to be hungry. Each Canna Cabins package will include two meals a day.
There are currently 12 Canna Cabins with endless possibilities in the future. It is a young company in the rapidly growing recreational marijuana industry.
"The sky is the limit." Said Nelson about Canna Cabins and the future of the recreational marijuana industry.
With the industry being less than a year old in Colorado and newly instated in Washington, there is no telling what will happen. The success of recreational marijuana is a positive sign for entrepreneurs like Nelson. Canna Cabins is at the forefront of a new type of vacation for cannabis enthusiasts. The company is providing destination vacations that support and provide cannabis for its guests.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this young company.
More Marijuana TravelRead More
by R. Scott Rappold
Tourism has long been one of Colorado’s top industries. Few places on the planet can rival our state’s mountain splendor, powder skiing, thrilling whitewater rafting and endless hiking opportunities.
And these days, where is there a rival to our legal marijuana?
Since Jan. 1, the day Colorado became host to the first legal sales of adult-use marijuana in modern U.S. history, enthusiasts from across the nation have been flocking here to vacation and to get in on the fun. A growing number of cannabis-focused travel agencies have formed to cater to these marijuana tourists.
Marijuana tours range from quick jaunts to the mountains to activities around Denver to all-inclusive, multi-day luxury junkets. Tour guides provide transportation to help people get acquainted with cannabis culture here, find the best strains and stores for their tastes, and perhaps most importantly, to help ensure cannabis users who come here on vacation don’t leave on probation.
"The reason you’d want to have a tour guide is you don’t want to worry about getting pulled over. You don’t want to worry about having five-billionths of a gram of cannabinoids in your system," said Peter Johnson, founder of Colorado Green Tours, referring to the controversial DUI limit for marijuana in the bloodstream.
"You don’t want to worry about looking at your GPS, trying to find the right exit, trying to find the best locations, the best deals," he said. "All those things are taken care of for our guests."
Exactly how many people are coming to Colorado specifically for marijuana is difficult to quantify. Colorado ski resorts experienced their best season ever in 2013-14, but how much of that was driven by marijuana versus ample snowfall?
Denver International Airport set a record high for April passenger traffic this year, but how much did the Cannabis Cup and 4/20 celebrations play into that?
Still, the sheer number of marijuana tourism companies popping up – more than a dozen as of this writing – speaks to their popularity. "It’s been an awesome year so far," said J.J. Walker, founder of My 420 Tours in Denver.
The Cannabis Sampler tour is Walker’s most popular. For $1,450, excluding air fare, visitors get transportation to and from the airport, three nights in a "420-friendly" downtown Denver hotel and three days of workshops, cooking classes and tours of dispensaries and grow houses. While tour guides aren’t allowed to sell marijuana, they take visitors to the stores that do.
Walker said the average marijuana tourist is over the age of 40. They are are attracted to tour companies for more than the convenience of transportation. They benefit from local knowledge about everything cannabis, and enjoy the camaraderie with like-minded tourists, many of whom are baffled by the experience of legal marijuana and the rules of consumption.
"The reason you’d want to have a tour guide is you don’t want to worry about getting pulled over. You don’t want to worry about having five-billionths of a gram of cannabinoids in your system."
Indeed, for the tourist without a friend’s house to visit, the tour vehicles and party buses are among the few places they can legally toke up. Hotel guests are in a quandary because clean-air laws prohibit smoking in their rooms, yet smoking marijuana in public is illegal.
Walker has arrangements with a couple of hotels, which he declined to name, wherein tour guests get a vaporizer on loan to use in their rooms and a smoking tent on the premises.
Other marijuana tourism promoters are working to find other ways to solve the consumption issue. On the recently launched website travelthc.com, property owners can list their homes as a cannabis-friendly vacation rental and visitors can arrange accommodations, from luxurious houses to spare bedrooms.
From the Travel THC website: "So, you’re coming to Colorado because we legalized recreational marijuana? Awesome – we want to meet people like you. Come stop by a local dispensary, pick out a great strand, and enjoy it … where? Back in your hotel room? Nope – that’s illegal. On the street? Nope – cops won’t hesitate to write that $150 ticket. In a restaurant or coffee shop? Think again."
The first people to arrange a visit with Travel THC arrived in May; two New Zealand honeymooners who spent half their trip in Denver and half in a mountain cottage.
You don’t have to be on a noisy party bus to take a cannabis tour. Johnson, with Colorado Green Tours, offers trips around Denver or to the mountains for as few as one person. He also does a lot of business guiding potential investors in the marijuana industry and introducing them to key players.
The jury is still out on how much cannabis tourism will impact overall visitation and boosted revenue to Colorado. As Johnson pointed out, "A lot of people are coming here to check out the legal cannabis scene, but Colorado is a gorgeous place to check out anyway and cannabis makes Colorado that much better."
And he doesn’t believe marijuana tourism is introducing new people to a plant that remains illegal in 48 other states, except for approved medicinal purposes in nearly half of them.
"People who are traveling to Colorado to use cannabis are aficionados," Johnson said. "They’re connoisseurs like us."
Fight The FearRead More
by Citizen Jay
Mostly, I’m just insulted.
Have you seen the new commercials aimed at preventing driving under the influence of cannabis? I’ve heard a lot of friends talking about how absurd they are, how they portray stoners in a bad light.
Well, that is the point, eh? To convince people that driving under the influence is a bad idea. And to do that effectively, humor is a great tool.
Remember those anti-drunk driving ads picturing bleary-eyed, confused drivers swimming in a car full of foamy beer? The officer looks in and asks, “Have you been drinking?” Those ads were absurd too — and funny. The message was effective as well.
You see, I’m not insulted by those commercials. I think they’re just what we needed. No, it’s not the commercials. It’s the underlying hypocrisy. It’s the unquestioned perception that cannabis is fundamentally wrong. That the people who use it are fundamentally flawed. That its use is somehow fundamentally more dangerous than using other, more socially accepted medicines and intoxicants.
“HEGEMONY!” That’s what I feel like yelling at the top of my lungs from the crest of the dome atop our illustrious gold-covered capital. It’s a hoity-toity grad school term. It refers to the state’s (or otherwise ruling elite’s) ability to mask its agenda as the “natural order of things.”
It’s a powerful tool, because it works insidiously behind the scenes. It is “social norms” and “do what’s right.” It’s “don’t stray from the path” and “never question authority.”
Well, enough is enough. It’s time to start asking and answering those questions!
As an advocate for cannabis, I strive to show marijuana use as the benefit it truly is. As Citizen Jay, I portray myself as a responsible adult, a father, a husband, a business owner, a home owner. I am not what some might call a “wookie” — an endearing term referring to a particularly large breed of long- bearded, usually tattooed and pierced stoner mostly found in glass blowing circles, biker bars, and loud music venues.
I am not what others
would call a “burn-out,” lounging on the sofa all day watching cartoons while wistfully wishing my life would somehow turn itself around. Instead, you might say I am hyper- productive, though my wife would have me devote more of that productive energy towards keeping the domicile neater, and I do love watching SpongeBob with my 8-year old daughter.
While Colorado residents created a regulatory system that would treat cannabis in a similar manner to alcohol (an incredibly dangerous and poisonous substance embraced and loved by people the world over), the implementation of Amendment 64 has seemingly strayed far from its original intent.
What is driving the flight from reason when it comes to regulatingis what I find so insulting.
As we work our way through the regulation of cannabis, we’ve got to fight the fear and speak out against unreasonable reactions from our city council members and other regulators at the city and state levels.
If we’re going to lead the rest of the country by example, then we’ve got to make sure it’s a good one. Allowing fear to guide our civic decisions is a mistake. Instead, we’ve
got to rely on what we actually know.
We’ve got a great opportunity to change many things in our nation with the implementation of responsible cannabis regulation. It can improve our economy, it can improve our collective health, it can ultimately save lives as more people turn to its use and away from more destructive substances like alcohol.
If we’re going to set the right example, we’ve got to chase the fearmongers out of our halls of government. Those who have been held sway by the propaganda, who are still convinced that cannabis is a thing to fear, they’ve got to go.
And we’re doing that. In caucuses around the country, cannabis advocates are taking up the call and joining the political fray. As a movement, we don’t care which side of the isle your loyalties lie, as long as you recognize the future IS cannabis.
It’s no longer OK to sit back and watch the doers do. It’s time to become doers and do it ourselves.
The Higher You FlyRead More
by DJ Reetz
Standing in line at Denver International Airport, the mass of travelers trudges forward. Ahead, a TSA agent apathetically flashes a UV light over IDs and passports, rectifying names to tickets. A ceaseless march through the security checkpoint in which all travelers will have their personal belongings as well as their persons thoroughly scanned for contraband in the name of protecting the liberty that would be so jealously attacked by terrorists.
In my backpack I am carrying what some would consider drug paraphernalia; a portable vaporizer, though the cartridges – which contain the true “contraband” – are tucked safely among the sweetly fragranced soaps and deodorants in a zip lock in my checked bag.
Accompanying me is my girlfriend, who has packed several of her homemade cookies to help alleviate the nausea and anxiety that accompanies air travel for her. She looks sheepishly at me. “Just relax,” I try to reassure her.
At times in my life this process would have made me nervous, but I now stand on the righteous side of legality, and the ner- vousness that accompanied my many past experiences is re- placed by the soothing awareness that this will all be fine.
To use the old cliché, “This ain’t my first rodeo.” I’ve been here in the past, in a similar situation minus the technological ad- vancements on both sides, and minus the legality that in this instance works in my favor. For my first such experience I was still a child of 15, paranoid and worried, not just that airport se- curity would catch me, but also that my accompanying parents would find out about my precious cargo.
I can recall my brother’s hysterical laughter as I tried desper- ately to remove the Saran wrap and Vaseline coated stash that I had foolishly duct taped to my taint, trying to avoid removing most of my adolescently unkempt pubic hair in the process. Lat- er attempts involved the use of a simple hair scrunchy in place of the ill-advised duct tape to secure the package to my pack- age. But even this technique now creates more problems than solutions with the body scanners allowing a traveler’s naked body to be rigorously scrutinized by a – supposed – computer program.
The access to a legal market that came with my red card al- lowed for even better conveyance. In the past I’ve packed ed- ible candies in my carry-on, deftly disguised in a bag of similar looking non-dosed confections. I even just strolled through the metal detectors with a bag in my pocket (though this, again, is not advised given the near complete use of body scanning machines at DIA).
This time, however, my actions are at their most serene. The portable vaporizer technology, for the moment at least, seems to be beyond the scope of prohibitionists, and so I don’t exhibit any of the telltale nervousness that law enforcers rely upon.
Clearing local security is perhaps the most minor of my con- cerns on this trip though. The TSA has publicly acknowledged its primary goal is preventing terrorism, not enforcement of drug laws. To this end one would speculate that even if you were to be caught at a checkpoint with a product containing THC in your bag (unlikely as X-ray machines detect metallic and dense objects, and TSA agents are trained to look for bomb compo- nents and weapons) consequences would likely be minimal. And while DIA has exercised its legal right to ban marijuana – both adult-use and medical – there remains no mechanism for enforcement and no clear demonstration of how violations would be punished for simple possession.
But my final destination for this trip is Ecuador, and interna- tional travel means passing through customs and submitting to searches for both potential biological contaminants and illicit contraband.
In my experience, no country scrutinizes travelers to the degree the U.S. does, so the fear of being caught in a foreign country with an illegal substance is diminished. The security gate at DIA is a practice run, if I can, as I suspect, easily pass through here there is no greater inquiry that awaits me on the other end of this flight.
After landing in Quito, we breeze through the customs inspec- tion. I carry the confidence that, despite some definitions, I am not a criminal. I am only transporting cartridges for my personal use, not smuggling drugs for profit. I gladly submit my belong- ings to the final X-ray machine, knowing full well that my legally purchased cargo will not be recognized. And with that I have arrived, ready to enjoy my trip and deal with the rage-inducing stress of travel in any manner I see fit.
Still, I maintained discretion throughout my trip. Though, as I have stated previously, I am fully aware that prohibitionists’ minds are not on par with current technology, one must always be aware that such thought persists outside of our progressive
homeland. But discretion does not equate shame, and I refuse to behave as a criminal, using my vape pen openly where ap- propriate.
It also bears consideration that this is South America, a conti- nent that has felt the brunt of the war on drugs, and therefore has a somewhat more informed perspective than other parts of the world. Legalization in Uruguay and the seemingly impending legalization in Brazil reflect a more thoughtful approach to drug policy on the continent.
In other parts of the world laws are alarmingly backward, and travelers that wish to partake abroad are best to avoid those places.
For me, the return trip created more need for paranoia than the departure. As a savvy traveler, I packed more than I needed, so returning home meant entering the U.S. with a partially filled cartridge. My itinerary included a stopover at Miami International, a hotbed for international drug smuggling, and thus a place where law enforcement would be on high alert.
America’s wang is also notorious for backward attitudes regarding marijuana, so being caught here poses much more of a problem than it would in Denver.
After passing through the Orwellian mug shot machines at passport control, the K-9 unit patrolling the baggage claim was not alerted to the trace amounts of oil still in my possession, and I was shortly headed back to the land of legalization, free to enjoy myself as a responsible adult.
For some, traveling without marijuana is not an option. Those who rely on cannabis for medication do not have the luxury of abstinence. For these people, staying within the state may be the only choice. But with a little know-how and the requisite confidence, this obstacle can be overcome.
It is recommended to avoid traveling with flowers, as this is generally what law enforcement has been trained to look for and the odor is harder to control. Instead, I recommend the handy portable vaporizer or well-contained edibles (though these too can smell and will attract attention).
Domestic flights should pose no problem; throw your meds in a checked bag or your carry-on knowing that X-ray machines aren’t designed to catch personal users, but rather terrorists and large-scale traffickers. For international travel, check out our list of countries to avoid. Being caught overseas with a small amount can be uncomfortable to say the least.
Above all, be confident. Travel knowing that despite what the law may say, you have the moral high ground. Those who wish marijuana to be illegal should feel shame for their ignorance, not you.
Countries to Avoid
Here in Colorado, it can often seem inconceivable that else- where in the world marijuana is viewed as a scourge. Check out this list courtesy of the International Harm Reduction Associa- tion before you consider traveling, and consider carefully what you pack if you visit these countries.
China: The very first country to buy into the U.S.’s Reefer Madness after World War II. China is known to implement the death penalty for any one caught manufacturing, planting, transport- ing or selling drugs. Being caught with a small amount of THC for personal use would seem to fit the definition of transporting, so think twice about this.
Saudi Arabia: Go figure that the country that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks has an insane take on drug laws. In Saudi Arabia you are likely to face execution for trafficking, receiving, importing, exporting, processing, producing, converting, or growing drugs, as well as being complicit in any of these acts.
Vietnam: ‘Nam is widely regarded as one of the strictest countries in the world with regard to drug laws. While death penalties are aimed at manufacturers and those caught trafficking large amounts (five kilos of hash will do it for you) it’s probably best not to chance it here.
Singapore: A prolific killer of drug offenders, between 1999 and 2003 110 of Singapore’s 138 executions were for drug offenses. To qualify for the death penalty you need to have 500 grams (a little over a pound) of flower, or 200 grams of resin. These numbers are significantly lower for hard drugs.
Malaysia: While not necessarily as committed to the execution of drug offenders as some of the countries higher on this list, Malaysia still targets traffickers for capital punishment and has been known to execute foreign nationals.
Iran: Among reasons to avoid traveling to Iran is the commit- ment the Iranian government has expressed to executing drug offenders, though capital punishment is mostly focused on re- peat offenders. Americans traveling in the country are viewed with suspicion and are likely to be harassed anyway. Giving the government here an excuse to screw you is most definitely a bad idea.
North Korea: It goes without saying, but if you somehow find yourself entering this highly cloistered nation you should do so without cannabis. Data on state executions is mostly kept secret, but executions are alleged to have been carried out against manufacturers, dealers and traffickers. Another country that is known to detain Americans, getting caught with cannabis here would likely get you in a jam even Jimmy Carter couldn’t get you out of.
The IHRA also lists countries that have a low commitment to executing drug offenders. While the chances of being executed in these countries are lower, the fact that they appear on this list should alert you to their attitudes toward marijuana.
These countries include: Indonesia, Kuwait, Thailand, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and Bangladesh.
Below these, the IHRA lists countries that only symbolically commit to executing drug offenders, meaning there are laws in place but executions are rare if at all. Still, these remain bad places to be caught with marijuana.
These countries include: Cuba, Taiwan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, India, Qatar, Gaza, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Laos, and the good ol’ U.S. of A.
So travel smart, stay safe, and consider what’s in your luggage before you set out.
Changing the RulesRead More
by DJ Reetz
For many professional athletes, cannabis use can be a career damaging faux pas. The MLB, NFL, NHL, and the all encompassing World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) have policies prohibiting marijuana. When athletes are caught with THC in their bodies, the outcome can be more than just embarrassing.
Professional athletes face fines, sanctions, suspensions, and can even lose sponsorships for using marijuana. The list of star athletes who have gotten into trouble for – allegedly – using (or at least possessing) marijuana includes Denver Broncos Laurence Maroney and Von Miller, Allen Iverson, Carmello Anthony, Randy Moss, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the most decorated Olympic athlete in history, Michael Phelps.
This was the case for Ross Rebagliati, a Canadian snowboarder who in 1998 took home the first-ever Olympic gold medal for snowboarding in the slalom. Shortly after receiving it, the medal was stripped from him by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the result of a small amount of THC found in his system during routine drug screening.
For Rebagliati, then a wide-eyed 26-year-old, losing the medal was devastating and unexpected. “It was pretty traumatic to go through that experience, to have the medal taken away from me and have my achievement be forever associated with marijuana,” he says.
Making the Olympic team was something he had dreamed of. Snowboarding was just starting to be taken seriously, and he had been a part of the movement for the previous seven years, having transitioned from ski racing in 1991.
Prior to those Winter Olympics 16 years ago, marijuana use wasn’t an issue, says Rebagliati. At the time, marijuana wasn’t even listed as a banned substance by the IOC.
“I did my drug testing before I left for Nagano,” he says. “Those three drug tests that I did in Canada were made public and it was revealed that in all three of those tests I tested positive for marijuana as well. Nothing was ever brought to our attention with regards to that.”
It wasn’t until after he had won a gold medal that the presence of THC became a problem. “It made it look like they were waiting for me,” he speculates. “If marijuana was such a big deal that you could lose your medal over it, you would think that if you tested positive for it in all your dug tests before you went that that would be something you would be notified of or something.”
After two unsuccessful appeals, the medal was finally reinstated when it was brought to light that marijuana was in fact not listed by the IOC as a banned substance, making Rebagliati the only Olympic athlete to have a medal reinstated after being stripped under those circumstances.
“Most athletes, even today, would probably agree that even now they wouldn’t want to get tangled up in [the marijuana debate] the way I did,” he says.
In the late 1990s the medical marijuana community was nowhere nearly as prevalent as it is today. Only four states in the US had passed allowances for medical marijuana – California, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington – and it was mostly seen as a joke, something only useful to glaucoma patients. President Bill Clinton had famously sleazed his way out of the issue of his own personal use, famously claiming that he didn’t inhale.
Rebagliati became somewhat of a punch line, despite his world class athletic accomplishments.
“It takes a lot of motivation to do what I did,” he says. “You have to be really on your game.”
Out-dated stoner stereotypes aside, Rebagliati found himself sticking up for cannabis use. Soon he was defending not just the harmless nature of recreational use, but also advocating the health benefits associated with marijuana, from its anti-inflammatory properties to its ability to help with sleep and recovery.
“I’ve been through the wringer for 15 years,” he says. “I came out of the pot closet 15 years ago and I’ve been labeled with this for a long time.”
His openness about marijuana manifested in problems entering the U.S., an issue which following 9/11 earned Rebagliati a spot on the no-fly list.
“If you go through any border crossing into the states and you admit to using marijuana or any drug at any point in your life, they’ll pretty much not let you in,” he says. “And then you won’t get let in any more after that based on the fact that you weren’t let in that one time.”
Rebagliati continues to be the guy people go to when athletes are caught using marijuana. He’s been featured in publications such as Sports Illustrated and USA Today for his defense of athletes using marijuana, and he’s not shy about saying that more athletes may be using marijuana than the public may be aware of.
“There were lots of athletes that did it, that’s for sure,” says Rebagliati of his time as an Olympian. “We used cannabis on a regular basis, in the off-season especially, just to get motivated and go to the gym six days a week.”
But it’s not just snowboarders that find marijuana useful, according to Rebagliati. “It’s true that in a lot of sports that involve healthy living and extreme levels of performance you’ll find people using cannabis on a regular basis,” he says.
The credibility he’s established over the years sometimes causes people to be more open about their cannabis consumption than they may be otherwise.
“The athletes that use cannabis that I’ve come across at different charity events or what not over the years have confided in me that, oh yeah, they’ve been using for years and years,” he says.
Even politicians have approached Rebagliati to let him know they’re on the level, he claims.
All this may be a sign that the tide may finally be changing. With the legal marijuana market opening this year in both Colorado and Washington, it is becoming harder and harder to justify sanctioning athletes for using a harmless substance.
Both teams in this year’s Super Bowl - Denver and Seattle - hail from cities that are pioneering legal marijuana. With the widely known medicinal benefits associated with cannabis consumption, prohibiting athletes from partaking is looking increasingly foolish.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently implied that the league might be adopting a more progressive stance on marijuana. He said that the NFL would “continue to support the evolution of medicine.” This could be good news for players who risk concussions and other serious injuries, giving them a more natural and healthy alternative to the potentially toxic mix of pharmaceutical narcotics often prescribed to professional athletes.
Advocacy from people like Rebagliati may finally be influencing Olympic drug policy. Last year, WADA raised the allowable threshold for THC from 15 to 150 nanograms per milliliter (for a bit of context, consider that five is enough to get you a DUID in Colorado). The idea behind the change is to avoid false positives, allowing athletes to partake in the offseason.
Still, WADA views marijuana as a performance enhancing drug, citing its effects on pain tolerance and confidence levels during competition.
But Rebagliati doesn’t see it that way.
“I think it’s performance enhancing as much as eating healthy is performance enhancing.,” he says. “To me it’s just part of a healthy lifestyle in general.”
“I always found that having a little puff before I went to the gym just made the experience that much more enjoyable, I was that much more motivated to do my workout, and after my workouts I use a little bit more to relax and let my muscles recover from the workout. So in a round-about way you could say that’s performance enhancing.”
Rebagliati’s passion for marijuana has now led him into the marijuana industry. Last year he started Ross’ Gold, a medical marijuana dispensary in Whistler, British Columbia, and he hopes to have the business rolling in April when new, more relaxed cannabis laws go into effect in Canada.
“For me the writing was on the wall in a lot of different ways,” he says. With travel to the U.S. no longer an option, his decision to enter the medical marijuana industry and provide people with the medicine he has spent most of his adult life promoting made perfect sense. “I realized that these things that have been taken away from me are things I wanted to protect,” he says.
Rebagliati is proud of the example he has set. As he forges ahead in the marijuana industry, perhaps other athletes will stand up for their own responsible use. ♦