Ross Rebagliati, from Canada, holds his gold medal in the Snowboard Men's Giant Slalom at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Feb. 8, 1998. (Alexander Zemlianichenko, Associated Press)

Snowboarder Ross Rebagliati proud to “carry the cannabis torch”

Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati has no regrets about getting busted for consuming cannabis at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. In fact, he’s proud to be one of the first Olympians to open up about his cannabis use – even though he was temporarily stripped of his gold medal and barred from entering the United States because of it.

“I’m proud to be the guy to take the hit for that,” Rebagliati recently told Civilized. “I feel that I represent tens of thousands of Canadians and citizens of the world that have unjustly paid different dues because of their cannabis use or their association with it. And I’m honored. Honestly, I love cannabis and I love the cannabis industry so much that I couldn’t be more honored not to be allowed into the States. To be that guy is a huge privilege. I thank my lucky stars every day that I tested positive for weed at the Olympics. I can’t imagine a better legacy for me as an Olympian than to carry the cannabis torch – to bear the cannabis flag.”

Of course, he wasn’t so upbeat about the incident when the chance to come out of the cannabis closet presented itself nearly 20 years ago.

“I was scared at the time,” Rebagliati added. “I knew that was my opportunity, but I knew it wasn’t going to be fruitful right at the beginning. I ended up spending a bit of time in a Japanese jail. Before I got my medal back, there were a lot of scary moments. And then after 9/11, I wasn’t allowed back in the States. I couldn’t go down for a long time.”

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This story was first published on Civilized.Life