Wait, people smoke pot while snowboarding and skiing?! (Photo by Mahala Gaylord/The Denver Post)

X Games start in Aspen sans recreational weed sales

Like it or not, the connection between marijuana and skiing/snowboarding is undeniable for many. And yet the X Games start Thursday in a glitzy Aspen that is still devoid of recreational marijuana sales.

“It’s frustrating, but all things considered I’m just looking forward to getting open,” said Jordan Lewis, owner of Silverpeak Apothecary. “There’ll be another X Games next year.”

Silverpeak received Aspen’s first recreational marijuana license a few weeks ago, and the shop could have began its recreational sales then but its supplies weren’t ready. Lewis is hoping to open his recreational shop in the third week of February, around the 24th, he told The Cannabist.

See our updated map of recreational and medical marijuana shops.

Even though the X Games’ website clearly states its marijuana policy — “X Games Aspen is a non-smoking, alcohol, drug and marijuana free event” — the drug has been a favorite for skiers, snowboarders and other extreme sports athletes since the sports’ inceptions. Some Aspen locals feel the X Games crowd will land in Aspen assuming they can legally purchase marijuana — a first for many of the people traveling from out of state.

“It’s unfortunate because a lot of people who are in town have an awareness that this is obviously happening in the state, and many of them are probably excited about it and expecting it to be available in Aspen — and it’s not,” said Katie Shapiro, a “media guru” who splits her time between Aspen and Denver. “It’s a bummer that the city of Aspen can’t capitalize on one of the biggest events of the year in town.”

So how will the fans and enthusiasts (and the mob of people that surround the worldwide sporting event) find legal marijuana?

“We’re definitely preparing for a big weekend that weekend,” said Nick Brown, owner of Silverthorne pot shop High Country Healing. “I’ve hired six new employees for that weekend.”

Those driving Interstate 70 from Denver to Aspen will pass through Silverthorne, positioning High Country Healing for a potentially lucrative weekend.

“We’re prepared for a big winter, and part of that comes from us bring a rock’s throw from I-70,” Brown said. “We definitely have people stopping by on their way to Aspen or Glenwood Springs because there aren’t many shops that have opened up on the recreational side.”

Dan Volpe is benefiting from the same kind of traffic at his Serene Wellness shop in Empire, which is on U.S. 40 just a few minutes off I-70. Because Empire is rarely a destination, Volpe estimates “about 99 percent of the recreational business we’ve seen has been pass-through business with people going to Winter Park or other resorts up I-70 like Keystone and Copper Mountain.”

Ninety-nine percent is a significant percentage, but Empire’s also a small town.

“We always joke that Empire has a population of 420, but it is actually right around that number,” Volpe said. “We have several locals who have come in, but the majority of the people have been out-of-towners and people in from out of state –- including people from Mexico and France and Japan. And I don’t mean Japanese-Americans. I’m talking folks from Japan who are taking lots of pictures and are fascinated with what we’re doing here in Colorado.”

X Games will certainly draw an international crowd, some of whom will be curious about “what we’re doing here in Colorado.” At least for now, they won’t be able to experience it in Aspen.