Olympic gold medallist Ross Rebagliati to open medical marijuana dispensary
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:25AM EST
Ross Rebagliati hopes to cash in on the controversy that briefly cost him his Olympic gold medal for snowboarding, when he opens a cafe and medical marijuana dispensary in Whistler.
Ross' Gold will feature a coffee shop in the front, and an adults-only head shop and dispensary in the back, complete with a doctor's office to write the prescription-like documents required for legal pot purchases.
"There's already a demand in Whistler and has been as long as I can remember and I've lived here for over 20 years. There's a demand nationwide (but) the acceptability has been very, very difficult," he told CTV British Columbia.
Rebagliati won gold in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, but was briefly stripped of the medal after tests showed he had tetrahydrocannabinol -- the active ingredient in marijuana commonly known as THC -- in his system.
The decision was eventually overturned and Rebagliati's medal was restored, largely because marijuana was not on the banned-substances list and is not considered a performance-enhancing drug.
Rebagliati said his new business venture is a no-brainer.
"The fact that ever since the '98 Olympics 15 years ago I've been synonymous with marijuana has been a big part of it," he said.
Rebagliati said he intends to operate Ross's Gold under the federal government's new medical marijuana policy announced last month, which puts production and distribution into the hands of private vendor companies.
Rebagliati hopes to franchise the business after the flagship Whistler store is opened in the fall.
In addition to coffee and marijuana, the business will also sell pot paraphernalia such as vaporizers, pipes and rolling papers.
Asked whether he's a current pot smoker, Rebagliati said his personal habits have never been a secret.
"Yeah. The answer is yes," he said.
In recent years Rebagliati has worked as a real estate agent in B.C. And in 2009 he announced he would seek the federal nomination to run as the Liberal candidate in B.C.'s Okanagan-Coquihalla riding -- then held by Conservative Stockwell Day, a cabinet minister.
Rebagliati eventually stepped down as the Liberal candidate ahead of the election, citing personal and family reasons for his decision.
With a report from CTV British Columbia