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.
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.
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.
This article was written by Bethany Winkel
Joining the TSN online family in 2008, Bethany has used her skills as a writer to reach many people through her blog. Always eager to be a help to others, she is pleased to see her writing become a source of information, encouragement, and hope for those impacted by substance abuse. Bethany is happy to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of others. Bethany has also held the position of development coordinator for a nonprofit youth center for the past 6 years. With her expertise in grant writing, Bethany has raised over $1 million for programming that benefits at-risk youth. The happy mother of 4 young children, Bethany juggles her writing from home with spending time with her family. If her hours of research for her TSN blog articles have taught her one thing, it is to be an involved parent who takes time to listen to her kids.