By Justin Cannabis
When you think of cannabis legends hailing from Texas, Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson and maybe even Matthew McConaughey come to mind. High Times has featured these and many other marijuana advocates from the Lone Star State over the years. But there’s an underground cannabis-culture powerhouse that also flies the green flag proudly—the skateboarders of Texas.
Skateboarding thrives on style, creativity and consistently pushing the boundaries of what is possible. And, as any skater of any skill level can attest, there’s a price to pay in pain with this sport. Fortunately, it just so happens that cannabis shines in each of these areas, helping skaters dream up their next impossible trick and manage the pain when they inevitably fall.
Cannabis can help with relaxation and focus, allowing skaters to visualize and conquer their next line on the streets or in the pool. Anxiety can be another session killer for many skaters, and pot can help take the edge off of any jumpy nerves. After a long session and a sweet smoke, cannabis topicals are highly effective at soothing the sore muscles and scrapes that come with the territory.
Recently, I reached out to some skaters for their take on cannabis use in skateboarding, and the message was clear, straight-up harmony.
I met up with Texas’s own Embassy Skateboards team when they were in town for one of the biggest competitions of the year, the Vans Pool Party—an invite-only affair featuring some of the hottest skaters on the planet. This was the last year they’d be running the contest out of a giant mall in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles.
Security was omnipresent at the mall, so we dipped out to the parking lot between heats to smoke tough and reflect on the big show. Like them or not, corporate-sponsored skate contests are almost always a necessity in professional skateboarding. While these events are awesome for the spectators, they can be rough on the riders, who have to shred on demand and sometimes slam hard into the concrete. The highs and lows of flashy contests can take their toll on skaters who would rather skate on their own terms instead of against the clock. The vibes were definitely different the following day at a backyard skate pool party where I got some shots of the Embassy crew in action while the team enjoyed California’s enlightened cannabis freedoms.
The Embassy team is made up of legendary rippers and young chargers who continue to leave their mark across the country. I met Lee, official overload of Embassy Skateboards, through one of his veteran team riders, Pat. Pat’s a legendary skater and cannabis cultivator who I recently photographed blasting airs while smoking a huge joint on a halfpipe in Northern California. Lee was stoked by the shots and invited me down to Los Angeles to check out the big contest and meet the rest of the team. The Vans Pool Party contest was something to see, but I didn’t travel 400 miles just to enjoy a free show. I was there to get some shots for High Times, so, for me, the real action started the next day, when Embassy Skateboards hosted its own cannabis-friendly pool party at the Basic Bowl in Huntington Beach—Southern California’s surf/skate mecca.
Unlike in California, the cannabis laws in Texas are notoriously strict. Obviously, the team was stoked to visit a state with sensible recreational and medical laws on the books.
Meet the Team
Two of Embassy’s veteran riders grow cannabis to keep their team in the green and away from excessive booze consumption and opioids that have cost too many skaters their careers and even their lives. Heavy slams and exhaustion are a normal part of skating at this level, so the Embassy team uses cannabis to help alleviate the chronic pain and boost the creative juices to fuel the session. Lucky for them, team vet Pat has their back, growing enough fine herb to keep Embassy elevated. Pat’s a long-time fixture of the Northern California skate scene and still rides professionally at the age of 53. He’s part of a growing group of elder skatesmen who have managed to stay on board with a true dedication to skating, and a little help from Mary Jane.
While Pat spends much of his time on the road as a pro skater, he’s dedicated to growing quality cannabis at his home on the Mendocino coast. Pat’s been an outdoor grower since the mid-1980s, when Ronald Reagan was declaring war through the government’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP). Persevering through those oppressive years, Pat is now enjoying the freedom of an enlightened public attitude on cannabis.
However, he’s not the only cultivator Embassy boasts. Uncle Rodney, a hand-plant expert and all around vert ripper, is another seasoned veteran on the team. He keeps the guys fired up with words of wisdom on style and technique, and blissed-out with his own homegrown from the East Coast.
One of the top riders on the team, and a regular pro on the contest circuit, is Colin, a Virginia Beach ripper who flies the Embassy flag high. Like most of his teammates, Colin appreciates the relief cannabis provides from the aches and pains that follow any heavy session. He prefers the CBD-dominant strains that relax his body but won’t make him tired. He tokes just enough to ease his muscles so he can enjoy extended sessions.
Embassy guest pro and surfing legend Christian Fletcher was the first to blast skate-style airs over the lip of a wave, forever changing the sport of surfing and paving the way for the future. Christian prefers the convenience of vape pens, and generously handed them out during the session when the rest of us were busy rolling joints.
What started as a private session ended up attracting some skate-world celebrities and a few local pros that were there to cheer on the Embassy riders as they ripped the pool. Purpose-built for skating, the Basic Bowl has undergone many transformations over the years. Cracked, crusty and raw, it’s a proving ground for those who may be used to perfectly smooth ramps and parks, and the Embassy team tore it up! Special thanks to Basic Bowl owner Trace for the hospitality and the whole Embassy family for smoking the bowl, Texas-style!
Originally published in the October, 2019 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.