For most visitors, Canada has been the perfect host for this year’s Winter Olympics. They have friendly citizens, top of the line facilities, and beautiful scenery. The weather has been a bit unpredictable, but if that’s the biggest problem with the Olympics this year, the Canadians have put on a pretty winning event.
Marijuana Friendly City
Vancouver has been successful in keeping their rowdies quiet, not talking too much about their heroin and methamphetamine addicts, and not bringing up their homeless or their crime statistics. It is a lovely place, and people are friendly and very welcoming. In fact, to some people it has been too friendly. While athletes are not allowed to use any kind of drugs, the city of Vancouver has been dubbed a “marijuana friendly city”. Marijuana is not officially legal in British Columbia except for medicinal use, but as long as people are not causing harm because of it, the police will generally not stop them. Many shops line the streets of Vancouver that sell all sorts of drug paraphernalia, including fancy bongs, designer glass hookahs, and other smoking devices. Shops, such as the Cannabis Culture Magazine Shop, are almost commonplace, as well as advertisements for the different kinds of marijuana people can buy.
British Columbia first made a name for itself as a pot smoking area when local athlete Ross Rebagliati tested positive in the 1998 Winter Games, but was not penalized because he claimed he had been exposed to pot at a local Vancouver party. Many locals use marijuana regularly and openly. Vancouver even had a short run of the marijuana Olympics at the Herb Museum in 2008, but that was soon shut down.
Stepping Up Patrols
But just because British Columbia is known for its leniency toward drugs doesn’t mean all the expectations of visitors are going to come true. Much of the marijuana use has slipped underground while visitors are in town. So while pot-minded visitors may be hoping to be allowed or even encouraged to get stoned with the locals, this might not be the case.
Authorities in Vancouver have stepped up security in an effort to protect both safety and the city’s image. Local establishments like the ones at Whistler have seen an increase in police presence, something that is usually minimal. The police force has more than doubled during the Olympics, sending 60 police out to patrol the party scene.
The result is that while normally active bars and establishments are usually jumping on weekends, there has been an apparent lower-keyed atmosphere. Some locals are disappointed that they aren’t able to show the area’s true colors, but for those focused on the competitions at hand, the city is doing a good job of welcoming their guests from around the world.