Weed, Skateboarding, and the Olympics? Part 1 of 3

Words by Robert Brink, photography by Andrew Peters, additional photography courtesy Phantom Farms

It was only until a year or so ago…

That the usual band of skateboarding blowhards—and even the clueless types outside of skateboarding—could be heard saying (or seen typing) things like, ‘Skateboarding will never be in the Olympics because no one will pass the drug tests!’ Or, ‘Good luck getting anyone to give up weed to even get close to competing in the Olympics!’

But here we are, in 2019, and the Olympic debut of skateboarding in Tokyo is less than one year away, with qualifiers full of skateboarders testing negative for THC and other narcotics well underway.

There are three things that people should’ve learned from skateboarding’s six decades of existence by now:

  1. Never say never.
  2. Change, progress and evolution are not only inevitable, but they also drive skateboarding.
  3. Don’t ever underestimate the will of skateboarders.

The following interviews comprise of a cross-section of six different perspectives on cannabis, skateboarding and the Olympics. And, as much as we wanted to appease the naysayers, we came up short.

Olympics: 1, Blowhards: 0

Photos: Cameron Strand

Chase Webb, Professional Skateboarder

Do you think skateboarding helped push marijuana to the point of normalisation and eventually becoming legal? Seems like skateboarding and hip-hop have had a tremendous impact in that respect.

I feel like with time, everything becomes socially accepted. Pretty much every skater smokes weed, so maybe that did help. I just feel like everyone smokes weed nowadays. It’s like a cigarette.

You just won a gold medal in X Games Real Street. Is it weird to think that you may not have been able to compete in that, much less win, had X Games been an Olympic-sanctioned qualifying event and you could get randomly tested?

Definitely. But I would have quit smoking weed to be a part of it. Like, I love smoking weed, but I’m not so dependent on it. If I’ve got to do something that’s going to help you make some money or further your career, fuck it—I’m going to quit smoking weed. Next month I’ll be in the Dew Tour and they drug test for that because it’s an official Olympic qualifier now. So I haven’t smoked weed in more than a week. I’m basically using this as an opportunity to do my best, even though I’m not necessarily the most contest-type dude.

Did you attend any of the anti-doping education meetings?

Yeah dude, last year at Street League in London. I got there and they wouldn’t allow us to skate the course until we took this anti-doping class. And I had no idea that was even happening. The Olympics people had this whole PowerPoint thing set up and I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on? Are we going to get drug tested?’ Because I was definitely smoking weed that day! [Laughs]. But they were just getting everyone ready for it because this year is all the qualifying events. It was pretty funny being in that anti-doping class. All these questions are getting asked, like, ‘Are you allowed to take mushrooms?’ It was so funny, dude.

Was it helpful in the sense that it taught you what you needed to know in case you want to compete?

Yeah, definitely. I learned about a lot of stuff. Like, if you have asthma, you’re not even allowed to use an inhaler. Dude, I was tripping on that. How come you can’t use your inhaler to breathe? Is putting too much oxygen in your lungs going to help you skate longer? I don’t have asthma, but I know people that do and they’re constantly hitting that fucking inhaler. That’s their medicine, you know?

How much were you smoking on an average day?

Depends. I live in Murietta, dude. So I’m by myself a lot, going to the skatepark and maybe smoking a couple times a day. But when you go on a trip or you’re with mad homies and people are rolling up constantly, you can be smoking 20 or 30 joints a day. When I’m with the homies or on a trip, we’re smoking a lot dude.

Does smoking help your skating at all? With pain or nerves or fear? Or is it just enjoyable?

It’s more enjoyment for me, like a habit. Even now, I haven’t smoked in more than a week and I’m still skating every day—skating rails just fine. I don’t really see weed as a beneficial thing to me. Maybe sometimes it could calm you down or help with anxiety, but when you’re scared to do something, you’re still going to be scared. Weed won’t take that nervousness away from you at all. I definitely don’t think weed helps me perform any better as far as skating. But everyone’s different.

What do you get from Weedmaps as far as packages and product go? I know you guys go on some pretty rad tours.

We definitely get hooked up with weed. It’s not like getting a monthly box of wheels or boards from your sponsors though. You get it as you need it. Like medicine. If you need your medicine you hit them up, or you could go to a clinic, or they’ll have it delivered and take care of you. It’s pretty fucking cool, dude. In fact, it’s pretty fucking cool to be able to hook up your friends with weed too. I like hooking up the homies.

So I assume you’re going to try your best at these contests and if you qualify for the Olympics, then you’re down for that.

Every contest I go into, I’m going to try. I’m not the most confident, but I give it my all and fucking try, dude. That’s for sure. 

A couple of years ago, so many people were talking shit on the Olympics and the drug testing specifically and now you have tons of skaters entering the contests, taking things seriously. Some people like Chris Joslin have even quit smoking altogether I heard.

You just have to take it as an opportunity. And if you’re not down for it then you don’t have to be. It’s cool that people like Chris, who smoked mad weed, are seeing this an opportunity to quit and I back that to the fullest. That takes some courage and discipline.

Photos: Alex Souetre

Dashawn Jordan, Professional Skateboarder

So you’ve never really been into smoking weed?
I tried it when I was younger, but I haven’t smoked in years. I prefer not to.

What sparked that decision for you?
I hate feeling like I’m not totally aware. I like to be sharp with everything I do. There’s nothing I hate more than talking to someone who’s really high, or even when I would be talking to somebody who was sober when I was high. In a weird way, I felt disrespectful because I wasn’t able to give my undivided attention or show true emotion about what they’re talking about—I just don’t like that cloud over my real feelings.

Being in the skate industry, you’re around people who smoke all the time. Are you opposed to it or the legalisation of marijuana?

I mean, my mom smokes, so I’m not against it. The only thing I hate is when it’s abused. When somebody’s like, ‘I have to smoke to eat.’ Or, ‘I have to smoke to sleep.’ That’s when it’s annoying to me.

So are you okay with people who use weed or CBD medicinally?

Oh yeah. I had a homie who works for a CBD company give me a bunch of stuff. And I was like, ‘You know, I can’t really use it, but I’ll give it to my grandma.’ And you know I gave it to her and she used it and she said it actually helped her shoulder. It literally took away the pain. So when it’s like that, do your thing. I’m not against it.

So from a competitive standpoint, if they do random testing at Street League in London next week, because it’s an Olympic qualifier, you’re not stressed at all because you don’t even smoke.

Yeah. I’m chilling. At X Games in Norway last year I did it the first time. The random drug test and stuff. I was like, ‘Dude, whatever you guys need me to do. I’m not tripping. I don’t have anything in my piss!’

It sounds like you’ve had this mentality for a long time. It’s not like you recently decided you wanted to be sharp for skating contests or anything.

It’s been like that from day one for me. Like I said, I had enough time where I did it and it was cool, but it was never a time where it was like a religion to me and I just had to smoke.

If weed or THC weren’t prohibited in competition, would you be opposed if another skater who you were up against was using it? Do you feel that would give anybody an advantage over you in a competition?

It’s a weird grey area. Some people may do it because they want to relax. Some dudes may do it because when they are high they skate the best. It’s crazy because you have somebody like me who is out there as the person they are, dealing with the stress and the pressure and everything at a sober, normal level, so why should the other dude who has the same worries be able to smoke and relax?

I don’t know if marijuana provides a ton of advantages. But if there is an advantage, that’s definitely the one—the nerves and the performance anxiety. Because competition is, in part, about overcoming those nerves in my opinion. I skated contests when I was younger and nervousness was the most difficult part for me.

That’s my main setback when I compete too—the nerves. That’s the only thing that gets me. This year, that’s the one thing I’m trying to work on—just mellowing out.

Art: Matt Rodriguez

Read Part 2 here now, and learn more about cannabis at Phantom-Farms.com

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