CANADA: The first cough is a sign. The second is a dead giveaway. Then the laughing starts, big bellyfuls of guffaw, and considering one of the most famous stoners in the world is on the other end of the phone from which all the noise emanates, only one question seems appropriate.
Dude, are you getting high right now?
“We’re sampling,” says Ross Rebagliati, the Canadian snowboarder you last met in 1998 when he was winning Olympic gold for his shredding prowess, then losing it because his drug test came back positive for marijuana, then getting it back on appeal because weed wasn’t actually on the Olympics’ banned-substance list.
While Rebagliati swore it came only from secondhand smoke, a story by which he sticks today, the positive test married him to ganja in the public’s eye. And 16 years later, with his sport primed to capture the world’s attention at the Sochi Games, Olympic snowboarding’s first champion likewise is ready for his greatest challenge yet.
Ross Rebagliati wants to be the biggest medical-marijuana dealer in Canada. If that means sparking up some Cotton Candy (“It’s a new strain. I love it.”) or Super Lemon Haze (“It smells like lemon. What more could you ask for?”) on a Thursday afternoon, so be it. Rebagliati spits at the maxim not to get high on your own supply.