“I saw a drug deal when I was on a disc golf course with my nine year old boy.”
This was told to me by a disgruntled fellow player as we were making our way to our tee time at a PDGA event. He went on to express the sadness and disappointment he felt when he found out many of the local disc golfers that his son looked up to regularly smoked marijuana illegally during their rounds at the local course. This was not my first and it definitely has not been my last conversation like this. It seems that the use of drugs and other substances are intertwined with disc golf.
Just the Facts Please
In our 2015 State of Disc Golf Survey, we asked the following: In 2014, I have participated in the following on a disc golf course:
- Drinking Alcohol
- Smoking Tobacco
- Smoking Marijuana
- None of the Above
We allowed participants to select more than one option. The results were as shown in the chart below:
(NOTE: Totals do not add up to 100% because participants could select more than one option.)
We found this data very interesting, and we would like to spread this topic across several articles to give each aspect of it the attention it deserves. This article will focus strictly on the use of Marijuana while playing disc golf.
Well, Isn’t it Pretty Much Legal?
Unlike the other three substances, Marijuana is the only one hazed by a variety of possession and usage laws (excluding local public smoking and drinking laws). The main question at hand is recreational use, which has only been legalized in 2 of 50 States (Washington and Colorado). How does this impact the way we should look at our data? Here is another interesting chart that looks at where the disc golfers who had smoked marijuana were from:
So is it safe to assume that 92.7% of the disc golfers who took our survey chose to smoke marijuana illegally? Not necessarily. A handful of states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and our survey did not not ask where the pot smoking took place. (Maybe all 92.7% went to Washington or Colorado whenever they smoked marijuana on the course?) Even with the benefit of the doubt, it is safe to assume that a good portion of the marijuana smoking that occurred on the disc golf course during 2014 was smoked illegally.
Marijuana and Disc Golf: Best Friends or Worst Enemies?
Now to the debate that rages like wildfire in the disc golf world: Does marijuana on the course harm the sport, and therefore need to be burned elsewhere so that disc golf can thrive? Or should we all just learn to get along and embrace the “counter-culture” as an inseparable part of disc golf forever?
Of course, to give these questions the proper attention, we need to answer another question. Where do we want to see our beloved disc golf in the future? Do we want to see Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki battle in a play-off for the World Championships on ESPN? Or do we want to keep disc golf to ourselves–free to play and low key?
Another question from our survey asked, “Would you like to see disc golf become a mainstream sport?” And this leads us to another chart:
And in case you were wondering how only those who smoked marijuana on the course answered this question:
And naturally everyone else’s chart would look like this:
So What Does This All Mean?
We’ll let everyone draw their own conclusions from this data, but there were a few things that caught our eye.
It would seem natural to assume that a greater majority of disc golfers who don’t smoke marijuana would want the sport to become mainstream, but this spread was only slight (a difference of only 7.9%). So, it seems safe to say, all disc golfers regardless of drug use, want to see the sport grow into the mainstream. This raises even more questions: Do we want to bring the pot with us? Should we? Can we wave the flag of “Grow the Sport” and keep our stash of weed in our back pockets?
Some have fought to make this type of scenario a reality (we all remember the Vibram Four20 release from early 2014), and with at least two more states making marijuana legal in 2015 (Oregon and Alaska), the possibility of a mainstream society embracing disc golf and marijuana together is looking more and more plausible.
Of course, this potential reality still faces a lot of friction (we all remember the Vibram Four20 discontinuation also from early 2014). There are many who have expressed a desire to keep disc golf drug free and “family friendly.” And the one huge barrier: Marijuana use is still illegal in most of the United States.
This brings us back to my friend and I on our way to the tee. He not only was upset about his boy witnessing a drug deal while playing a sport they both loved. He also shared with me an experience he had when attending a city council meeting where he was lobbying for the installation of a new disc golf course on public land. He was all but completely shut down when the city council informed him of the alarming rates of drug related crimes reported in the area surrounding their existing disc golf course. Naturally, they were more than hesitant to approve another disc golf course.
But as Bob Dylan once said, “The times they are a changin’.”
Will Disc Golf make it into the mainstream? We sure hope so (at least 75.8% of us). Will Mary Jane make it too? Well, at least some of us hope so (69.8% of 24.5% of us).
Only time will tell.