Jeff McAbee: Fielding marijuana questions from Young Ullr
Summit County is a great place to raise kids. Admit it. Our skiing and shredding, high-altitude cherubs are pretty cool. Give parents their due for parenting at this altitude must come with a few challenges. I don’t have any children of my own, but if I did I can imagine standing in a lift line with a son. Of course, at 6 years old he can already out-ski me, dropping the cornice into Wacky Chute on Peak 8. I ski around and meet him at 6 Chair.
“Nice run, Ullr,” I say.
“Dad, my name is Dylan.”
“Right, but that was your mother’s idea.”
Having already taught my son all that I can about skiing, I look to instruct him in the more practical matters associated with living at 10,000 feet.
“I smell something burning.”
After checking my immediate vicinity, I turn around and see four young adults in oversized clothing passing around a smoking piece of glass.
“They are smoking marijuana, Dylan.”
“Marijuana? Isn’t that illegal?”
“Well yes and no, son.” He looks at me at little confused. “It is considered illegal by the Federal Government. It is also considered illegal to light up in a public place such as this, but in the State of Colorado and in the Town of Breckenridge, cannabis is legal under certain circumstances.”
“Like what, dad?”
“For example, if someone has condition that medical research has shown marijuana to be effective in treating, then they can go to a doctor, get a prescription, pay a fee to the state, and receive a medical marijuana card. As cardholders, they can go to a “dispensary” to get their prescription filled, like when we got you antibiotics after your ear infection.”
“So, a dispensary is like a pharmacy?”
“Yes Dylan, except a dispensary only fills prescriptions for marijuana.”
A slight breeze brings us another whiff of “medicine.”
“Dad, those guys look healthy.”
“They do, son. But remember that your ears looked normal when you had that ear infection. Some diseases or illnesses like depression, anxiety or migraines can’t be seen through baggy jackets and mirrored goggles. Some of our medical conditions only affect us on the inside.”
Another puff of smoke wafts in our direction. We slide past their group to get on the chair. I decide to be an overprotective parent.
“Hey guys, find an ‘unapproved structure,’ would you?”
One of the guys reaches to the side of his head and pulls out an ear bud. “Huh? What?”
Dylan and I get on the chair. We notice that while we were talking fresh snow has filled our tracks from the previous run.
“Where does the marijuana come from, dad?
“They grow it like tomatoes.” I notice my son looking around at the stark landscape. “Because of our climate, marijuana is grown mostly in peoples’ homes.”
“How do they do that?”
“They have special lights that help plants grow without the sun. If they have a medical condition and carry that aforementioned card, then they can grow a small amount for personal use. Remember when Aunt Annabelle’s hair fell out?”
“She used marijuana to ward off nausea.”
“Nausea?” He is so cute when he doesn’t know a word.
“When you feel like you are going to throw up.”
“Oh. So she grows it in her house?”
“Didn’t you ever notice how she doesn’t allow us upstairs?”
Dylan puts his head down and begins to stare at his skis.
“Dad, isn’t smoking bad for you?”
“I’m not a doctor but I think our lungs function best when our bronchioles and alveoli are pink and moist. After all, they are on the front line of gas exchange. At 10,000 feet we need all the oxygen we can get.
“I heard about a kid who brought some to school and he got expelled.”
“Dylan, we as a society try to treat our children as our most valuable assets so we set up some pretty serious consequences for smoking marijuana before adulthood. It’s kind of like driving a car. We want to teach a kid to be responsible before we hand them the keys.”
“But the kid at school got it from his dad. I heard that when they called his father he was mad at the kid for taking what was in the “green jar.”
We got off 6 Chair.
“The bowl’s looking pretty nice, son. Want to ride the Imperial Chair?”
We ski around and down to the highest lift in North America. There are no lift lines because Hoosier, Loveland, and Vail Pass are closed, the tunnel too. There’s no wind.
“Do you smoke marijuana, dad?” This kid asks great questions. I beam with pride.
“Not my cup of coffee, little man. When I was a kid, Nancy Reagan used to ask us to “Just Say No.”
“Who is Nancy Reagan?”
“A president’s wife. But listen, to bring that idea into today’s new climate of respect, I would just say “no, thank you.”
We arrive at the top of the Imperial Chair. The clouds lift and the sun reveals untracked lines all the way back down to six chair.
“Have you ever smoked marijuana?”
“I love your inquisitive nature, son.” Truly this apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. I put my arm on his shoulder.
“Want to hike to the Peak?”
“Do you think we should?”
“I do, son. I do.”
Jeff McAbee lives in Breckenridge.
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