Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department




Faculty Mentor

Eliot Graham


ethnography, marijuana, skiing, snowboarding, flow, drug

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology


What comes to mind when you imagine a ‘stoner?’ Most stereotype the term– some couch-bound, chip-munching slouch with a foggy gaze (and perhaps a goofy grin). Marijuana and its chemical effects hold an increasing presence in American minds. With full legalization of recreational use in 8 states and various degrees of medical legality in 18 others, the substance is caught up in a cultural shift. Our society is tackling the ethicality of marijuana, and the stigmas built around the drug are changing. What was once cited for ‘reefer madness’ is becoming (to some) a medical treatment, or just another way to enjoy a Friday night.

Whether legal or not, people use marijuana for their own purposes– this is where my interest lies. The phenomenon I’ve found most engaging is this: people get stoned and hurl their bodies down a mountain on a pair of skis. Anyone who hits the slopes on the weekend can witness this, especially if you’re with the right cadre of college students. This intensely physical activity flies in the face of stereotypical stoner behavior. By asking the question “why do people ski/snowboard and use marijuana?” this paper ethnographically explores the culture of downhill snow-sports (skiing and snowboarding) and its interplay with the use and experience of marijuana. Data collection will be conducted through semi-structured interviews and participant observations. It will rely upon literature regarding the anthropology of drug use, biochemical aspects of marijuana, and ‘flow theory’ as outlined by the research of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Understanding drug use through an anthropological lens offers alternatives to our societal stigmas– I suggest the effects of the drug are not purely biochemically determined, but are also mediated by the user’s culture, environment, and intention.

Honors College Research Project




© Copyright 2018 Silas Phillips