Colorado Ski Resorts Fight to Ban Weed Parties and Sky Events after Legalization of Marijuana

December 9, 2013 Updated: April 24, 2016

Major destinations for ski areas are on the offense as legal pot stores are preparing to open around popular ski resorts.

Colorado’s ski resorts are working hard to ensure that the multi-billion-dollar a year industry isn’t hurt by the legalization of marijuana and their stores, which are set up to open around the same time as many families and vacationers will begin planning their winter vacations and heading to the slopes.

For many snowboarders and skiers who come to Colorado for the slopes and ski chalets enjoy their time in the snow and have long been associated with hitting up joints or pipes tucked into their winter coat. But with stores set up to open on January 1st, especially near resorts and ski chalets across the state and some companies offering cannabis-themed ski trips, the resorts are worried about their business being harmed.

Jennifer Rudolph, who worked at Colorado Ski Country USA, represents 21 resorts in the state, and says that ski industry generates about $3 billion in tourism revenue annually and Colorado had more than 11 million skier visits last year alone.

She said “We’re getting the word out that we have a lot of things to offer guests, but smoking marijuana is not one of them. We have so much to offer our guests that outweigh the legality of possession of marijuana”.

Many ski resorts are also worried that many of their patrons who oppose marijuana, may choose to find another resort where marijuana won’t be so widely used. However, Rudolph says she hasn’t heard of anyone declining to come to Colorado because of the new pot laws, but it’s still too early to tell what resorts will allow and what to expect until after January 1st.

Colorado approved the margin for the legalization of marijuana 3 to 1, and more than two-thirds of the voters also approved of Marijuana. It’s also relatively easy o smoke marijuana on resorts without getting caught even if it weren’t legal. Wooded areas off of some Colorado’s slopes have been dotted as “smoke shacks”, which are old mining cabins that have been illicitly reused as places to smoke the plant out of the cold and wind.

Peter Johnson, with Colorado Green Tours, a Denver-based travel agency that plans custom cannabis-themed tours to ski areas, insists his company will respect the new laws.