By Anna Wilcox — 2/7/2014
Few people were surprised when Miley Cyrus got up on stage at the MTV Music Video Awards and lit up a joint. Though many celebrities are notorious for their drug habits (both illicit and prescription), those in the entertainment industry seem to catch a break when it comes to substance use.The same cannot be said, however, about Olympic athletes.
A little over a decade before Michael Phelps was caught enjoying some up-close-and-personal time with a pipe, another Olympian nearly missed out on a well-deserved gold medal due to marijuana. Back in 1998, Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati tested positive for cannabis. Rebagliati insisted that he never consumed cannabis, but rather failed the drug test due to second-hand smoke. Many still doubt the accuracy of this claim.
Fortunately for Rebagliati, cannabis was not on the list of banned substances for Olympic athletes, so he narrowly managed to hold on to his gold. Anyone familiar with cannabis understands that it’s not typically known as a performing enhancing substance, so why is there so much uproar when Olympians engage in a little smoke sesh?
Between his athleticism and success, Rebagliati embodied a breakdown of stereotypes surrounding cannabis. When Olympians engage in cannabis consumption, marijuana lovers become more than just couch junkies: they’re capable of being some of the most fit and successful people on the planet. Just as Phelps after him, Rebagliati’s story made it look like “drug users” can not only be functional members of society, but can excel in areas that the average person cannot.
Now that both laws and perception surrounding cannabis are changing for the better, Rebagliati is once again taking his chance with marijuana. In light of Canada’s recent medical marijuana policy changes, he has decided to embrace his stoner reputation and open Ross’ Gold, a medical marijuana cultivation and distribution facility.
Last year, the Canadian government made the controversial decision to privatize all cannabis cultivation. Rather than grow at home, Canadian medical cannabis patients now must mail order from a distributor. This is bad news to many, but great news to Rebagliati, who plans to open up Ross’ Gold for sales in April.