Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was in the media again during the recent Winter Olympics, the controversy over his stoner status still dogging him. In 1998 Rebagliati won the snowboarding Olympic gold medal, only to have it temporarily revoked after he tested positive for pot use. Yet the rules were vague, Rebagliati claimed to have inhaled “second hand smoke,” and the medal was returned.
Rebagliati had planned to attend the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as a spectator, but found himself barred from the US because he had “admitted past drug use,” even though he has no convictions or criminal record.
US Immigration officials told Rebagliati that he could only enter the states if he had his doctor give him a urine test and certify that he was cannabis-free. Rebagliati complied, and was given a lst-minute waiver so he could travel to Utah to watch the games.
Snowboarders have a well-earned reputation for enjoying a toke on the slopes. Two other Olympic snowboarders, one Danish and one Canadian, were arrested in the US for marijuana shortly after the 1998 games.
Although Rebagliati’s 1998 medal was reinstated because marijuana was not officially listed as a banned substance, the International Olympic Committee was sure to include marijuana in their list of prohibited substances at the 2002 games.
Bong banner banned
While Rebagliati was getting his pee tested so he could cross the border, two students in Juneau, Alaska, were suspended for displaying a 15 foot banner that said “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” as the Olympic torch relay passed by their school in January.
Student Joseph Frederick explained to the Juneau Empire that he and his friends specifically went off school grounds to display the banner. “We went across the street,” said Frederick, “standing with adults and people who don’t go to high school. Some people laughed, some people cheered, nobody really seemed bothered by it.”
Yet Principal Deb Morse was bothered so much that she confiscated the banner and suspended Frederick and one other student out of the 20 that had held it up.
“There’s no reason that because someone is still in high school that they shouldn’t have First Amendment rights,” complained Frederick.
“At school it’s a bit different,” said Principal Morse, defending the suspension. “There are things that are appropriate and inappropriate, and that was inappropriate.”