BY ED MURRIETA
This season’s SnowBomb events, held in San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento as California voters confronted cannabis legalization, were sponsored by cannabis companies — a first in the snow sports trade shows’ 10-year history despite cannabis’ decades-long presence in the state’s boarding and skiing culture.
Still, SnowBomb founder Jim McAlpine is surprised he received the cold shoulder when he offered to advise Tahoe Basin ski resorts on snow sports and cannabis, two cultures McAlpine says go together like peanut butter and jelly.
“Cannabis is everywhere,” McAlpine said. “They’re smoking in their cars in the parking lot to the lift lines to the ski lifts. They’re smoking on the trails. They’re smoking in the woods.”
And even though adult-use recreational cannabis was legalized in Nevada the same day it was legalized in California, McAlpine said he sees no sign of any Tahoe Basin resorts on either side of the state line addressing cannabis this ski season.
“Colorado has at least begun to approach the subject and put rules in place for cannabis use and is admitting that it’s happening,” McAlpine said. “In California and Nevada, there’s just no talk about it. I don’t see anyone having any rules about it.”
McAlpine said, “I’m trying to force resorts to look at cannabis as something that they have to officially address. You can’t pretend it’s not there. The time for that has to end with legalization.”
McAlpine, founder of the New West Summit cannabis-technology-business conference, offers resorts a post-legalization opportunity.
“I would want to monetize cannabis,” McAlpine said. “Do it in the right way, in the classy way. Start selling edibles and vape pens. Brand it as an after-ski recovery thing. Ski resorts could make millions of dollars like they’re doing with alcohol.”
McAlpine compared snow sports’ cannabis culture and its bota-toting alcohol culture.
“Drinking and skiing is something many, many people do,” McAlpine said. “It’s a lot, lot, lot more dangerous than using cannabis. Cannabis actually kind of makes you focus and think about what you’re doing a little bit more. When you’re drunk, you’re kind of being an idiot and skiing too fast. Cannabis doesn’t make you do that. So it’s much less of a risk hazard-wise than alcohol is.”
McAlpine is also founder of the 420 Games, which combines athleticism with cannabis activism, and he’s about to launch a cannabis-friendly gymnasium in San Francisco, Power Plant Fitness.
“I’ve had a lot of personal experience with cannabis and skiing,” McAlpine said. “I’ve never had my cannabis taken from me or had my lift ticket clipped. As long as you’re respectful when you’re smoking marijuana, the ski patrol pretty much leaves you alone.”
“If I was a ski patroller and saw someone smoking in front of kids I’d clip their ticket.”
McAlpine recommends edibles.
“I’ll usually munch a little edible at the start of the day,” McAlpine said. “I don’t feel it for the first hour but for the next four hours I’m feeling super-groovy while I’m skiing. And I don’t ever have to pull my pipe out.”
McAlpine praised vape pens.
“Vaping has made it a lot more convenient for people to get high on the hill,” McAlpine said. “You don’t have to pull your lighter out and take your gloves off and you don’t drop your pipe off the chairlift.”
In February, McAlpine will launch the 420 Games Canna Ski Bus, a first-in-California day-trip that will take skiers and boarders from the Bay Area to Tahoe. Unlike similar tours that serve booze on board, the 420 Games Canna Ski Bus will provide vape pens for riders’ pre- and apres-ski pleasures.
Meanwhile, McAlpine waits for Tahoe resorts’ responses to his offer of working together and addressing cannabis culture and snow sports culture in California.
“Nobody’s gotten back to me,” McAlpine said. “I’m the SnowBomb guy. I’ve worked in this industry for over 20 years. I usually get a call back on almost everything. This is the one thing where I’ve had radio silence.”