A Look At Marijuana Culture In Sochi And The Winter Olympic Village

US athlete Torin Yater-Wallace tweeted out this photo of the freeskiier holding at least ten quarter pounders. Not only does he look stoned (are his eyes even open?), the photo came with the text “Luh me mac D’s who in the mountain village needs some, I’m about to be the supplier.”

It doesn’t take a pulitzer-winning journalist to go out on a limb here and guess that the kid’s high. We’re not in Sochi–thank God–so we don’t know for sure what the hell Torin’s doing but this photo does give us about as good a prompt as ever to talk about the likelihood that right now there are Olympians relaxing in Sochi with a little bit of marijuana.

The fact of the matter is that Sochi is a subtropic climate–that’s one of the reasons that they’re having such horrible issues with keeping snow on the ground. But what’s not good for snow is very good for growing marijuana and growing marijuana is something that Sochi has been great at for years.

Before the Winter Olympics were awarded to Sochi in 2007, the area was known for being the #1 Summer vacation destination in the whole federation of Russia. It’s rich with culture and art, a tradition dating back to the 70’s when hippy culture began sneaking past the Iron Curtain. And while most of of the flowers/older graffiti has since been destroyed or covered up, the community hasn’t forgotten its existence… Or why they were there in the first place.

“There were little flowers everywhere, these little hearts, all that kind of stuff. Everything was kind of floating… like when you are smoking [dope], to put it crudely.”

The quote you see above came from a 16-year-old skateboarder and musician living in Sochi and was recorded in this study done in 2007. Researchers Hilary Pilkington, Irina Kosterina, and Elena Omel’chenko traveled to Sochi to explore the reasons why drugs were so prevalent in an area that’s so well off–compared to the rest of the Russian Federation. What they found was surprising for us to read.

The researchers found that not only has the “cultivation of cannibis [in the Sochi region] become large-scale,” the researchers claim that within the region “there are whole villages that specialize in the cultivation and sale of cannabis.”

It goes without saying that cannabis can’t be grown outdoors in the winter, but that doesn’t mean that growers haven’t been moving their projects indoors. Growers who have been anticipating a surge in winter tourism since the games were awarded seven years ago in 2007.

The same 2007 study even hints at the fact that drug production is to blame for some of the cultural and ethnic disputes:

“Members of one group were negatively disposed towards Abkhaz and Armenians living in some villages in the far south of Krasnodar Territory, near to Abkhazia, because, in their opinion, these people were producing cannabis and other natural narcotic substances on an industrial scale.”

So in case you were wondering, among all of Putin’s crackdowns of gays and dogs, weed is still very much available in Sochi.

What does that mean for the athletes? Are we to believe that they’re all playing it straight? No, they’re not. Forgetting Turin’s aforementioned photo, there have been tons of reports in the past of athletes getting #turnedup in the Olympic Village. Headlines like “The Olympic Village: One giant sex den?” “Proof That The Olympic Village Is A Massive Sex Party” and “Olympic Village Sex Fest: Athletes Tell All” are proof that these athletes aren’t just stretching their legs. And then you’ve got photos like these of Belgian cyclist Gijs van Hoecke going out on the town in London 2012 and getting literally “pissed.”

“But dude, drinking and sex don’t show up on a drug test.” I know. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a history of athletes smoking weed in the Olympics.

Enter Canadian Ross Rebagliatti, who won the first ever gold medal for snowboarding back in 1998. He was almost stripped of his medal after testing positive for marijuana in a post-race piss test but managed to hold onto it when he claimed that “the positive test was the result of accidentally inhaling nearby marijuana smoke at a going away party in his hometown of Whistler, BC.” This is the same person who is now opening a dispensary specializing in the strain of weed called “Ross’ Gold.”

Just today I wrote about Tanner Hall who claimed that freeskiing was becoming worse and worse because of all the drug tests today’s athletes were going to have to take. Devin Logan’s  response was pretty on point. “I don’t wanna pee in a cup once a month and have them come to my house, but at the same time I want to be on the worldwide stage holding a medal so it’s just something where you have to bite your tongue and go along with it.” Since Devin won the silver medal in women’s ski slopestyle earlier this week, we’re guessing that she’s not going to be smoking anything soon.

And that’s the thing, athletes who are medaling or who haven’t competed yet will 100% not be smoking. The risk just isn’t worth it. Just ask US Judoka Nick Delpopoloa who was expelled from the 2012 London Summer Olympics for testing positive for marijuana. While he claims he ate it accidentally, he was still thrown out.

But what about those who are done with their events, or haven’t medaled?

Canadian Kaya Turski is probably best known in these Olympic games for taking a pretty nasty digger during her women’s skiing slopestyle event, but to add insult to injury Kaya was pulled away from her teammates to be drug tested.

The good news is that we believe Kaya passed her test because according one source on Twitter, no one has tested positive yet in Sochi 2014. We’ve also learned that if you’re an athlete–regardless of how well or poorly you performed in your event–there’s a chance that you’ll be tested before or immediately after your event.

But what about a day or two after your event? Chances are that you’re going to give zero f*cks about toking a little bit in Sochi.

Not only that, there are reports that the World Anti-Doping Agency is looking into changing the criteria for cannabis as a banned substance for athletes.

Maybe one day with all the other marijuana legislation reform going on that there’ll come a time where weed isn’t a banned substance. Until then, you can guarantee that athletes will be finding reasons to light up Olympic Torch-sized joints wherever they go. Even in Sochi.

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