Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com

Pot tourism? Not on Vail Mountain, officials say

VAIL — Since the passing of Amendment 64 in 2012, allowing the retail sale of marijuana in Colorado, Vail Resorts has noticed some obvious effects.

Long before pot sales were allowed to begin on Jan. 1, Vail Mountain employees noticed a rash of people openly lighting up on the slopes — including on the chairlifts and on the decks of restaurants. When employees approached smokers to stop, (as it is still illegal to publicly consume marijuana or possess it on U.S. Forest Service land), they were often met with less-than-polite responses and the insistence that marijuana was now legal.

It became such a problem that the mountain started training employees to deal with marijuana situations, said Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot.

“Many employees weren’t sure what to do, so we made these cards to hand out to people to clarify that it’s not legal to smoke it on Vail Mountain, and we helped train staff to confront (offenders) and know the laws,” Jarnot said, adding that the resort is committed to keeping the place family-friendly.

The card is a simple bullet-point list that outlines Colorado pot law — namely, it’s illegal to consume it in public (and that includes in gondola cabins), adults older than 21 can possess up to 1 ounce, it is illegal to ski under the influence of pot and it is prohibited on national forest lands, where Vail Mountain is located.

Mountain officials said they’re only concerned about public consumption, not the hidden activities that may go on unseen.

“You will occasionally smell marijuana on the mountain,” Jarnot said. “Our staff is not going to go sniffing in every tree island on the mountain to root out marijuana, but when it’s openly and brazenly used, we will take it on.”

The rules are also backed by the town of Vail and the U.S. Forest Service. The town has been working to educate the public about pot regulations through signs and an entire marijuana FAQ portion of their website. The resort will be pulling passes of people who don’t comply with the laws, said mountain spokesperson Liz Biebl.

Violators who are convicted also face fines of up to $1,000.

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at mwong@vaildaily.com.


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The Sky-Hi News Updated Jan 11, 2014 05:52PM Published Mar 25, 2014 02:47PM Copyright 2014 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.