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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

No Joke: NPS Tells Rangers in Washington and Colorado Not to Toke

Marijuana use is still prohibited under federal law.

by: Ted Alvarez


Hey, brah: You probably know that recreational marijuana is now legal in two of the country’s national park-iest states, Washington and Colorado (and rumor has it that the parkiest of them all is up next).  But the National Park Service ain’t afraid to harsh a few mellows.  National Parks Traveler reports that NPS associate director David Vela recently sent out a memo to employees in both states reminding them to toss out their bongwater and cease-and-desist passing that dutchie around:
 

"The use of marijuana for medical and/or recreational purposes under state law will not be an acceptable explanation for a positive drug test given for pre-employment, random, or reasonable suspicion purposes," Mr. Vela reiterated in his note. "All employees may be subject to a reasonable suspicion drug test." 

[…] 

All Federal drug testing programs – whether they are the programs under the regulatory and legal auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – have taken the identical stance: Use of Schedule I drugs by individuals in federally regulated workplaces is unacceptable, and any individual who tests positive for a Schedule I drug will have a positive drug test on his or her record.
 

Curbing substance usage amongst rangers makes a great deal of sense.  After all, we wouldn’t want them getting silly and putting rocks in our packs when we aren’t looking, pulling fake bear pranks on campers, or more importantly, having impaired judgment in a life-or-death situation.  Since marijuana takes an especially long time to leave the body (sometimes weeks), the NPS decided that pot should remain off-limits even during off-the-clock jam sessions around the fire pit. 

While we're on the subject, we should take this opportunity to remind backpackers that although marijuana is permissible in some areas (and ultralight!), it’s still illegal on federal land.  That includes national parks, forests, monuments, and nearly anywhere you’d want to hike or camp.  When in doubt, stick with the scotch.

Read more: National Parks Traveler

 

 




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