In Biarritz and Nazaré, Costa Rica to Hawaii and from Australia to the beaches of California, surfers have settled in to ride some of the ocean’s best waves. The worldwide surfing population is estimated at between 17 and 35 million and are passionate about the water, the board, and the culture. Emerging from ancient Polynesia, it took a global hold in the 50s and 60s and continues to go strong. It has affected music, fashion, literature, film, art, and language.

And marijuana got weaved into the ride, bringing together two iconic chill vibes. Members of Hawaii’s world-famous surf culture have maintained a strong passion for smoking what the natives call “pakalolo”—”paka” means “tobacco” and “lōlō” refers to the THC’s numbing effects.

orange van with surfboard on top

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“Marijuana was the surfer’s drug of choice, and it fit easily within established surfer culture,” writes Matt Warshaw of the EoS. “Surfers prided themselves on being rebellious—not quite criminal, but not rule-abiding either—and pot was the perfect misdemeanor-level drug. Easy to grow, easy to buy, easy to transport, pot appealed to the surfer’s DIY home-based enterprising spirit.”

Surfers get stoked during the ride and baked before or after. Surfers have a bit of counter culture, but in today’s Insta world, even regional surfers who are good have a big following. Unlike 10 years ago, you have to be on your game for your followers and the video.  Surfing while a bit baked makes it hard to do the split second adjustment which separates amateurs from aficionados.

From a science point of view, marijuana is not seen as a performance enhancing drug. But it is still banned during competition. Selections on who will be tested are made by the World Surfing League (WSL) and International Surf Association (ISL),  for both in competition and out of competition testing. All surfers who compete in any World Surfing League event can be tested at any time whether it is at an event or at their home even.

marijuana leaf
Photo by Olena Ruban/Getty Images

A small amount of cannabis and ease anxiety ahead of the big swell. On the beach afterwards, it can be use to help speed up muscle recovery and relieve tissue swelling.  Water can be rough on the body.

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Not every surfer is like Spicoli in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, but kicking back post waves, feet in the sand and something to help you chill is still part of the scene.

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