Disney Bans Pot From Its Theme Parks

By Keri Blakinger 05/08/17

Visitors caught with pot could find themselves in Disney jail. 

outside of The magic kingdom in Hong Kong Disneyland

It’s the “happiest place on Earth”—but not for medical marijuana users. 

Walt Disney Parks recently added pot to its banned substances list, according to reports. 

The theme parks have long listed “illegal substances” as verboten—clearly taking a little bit of the magic out of Magic Kingdom. But in the aftermath of Florida’s November ballot approval of medical marijuana, Disney updated its rules to specifically ban marijuana from both the Florida and California parks. 

"Although some states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, marijuana remains illegal under federal law," a Disney spokesperson told NBC affiliate WESH.  "We are revising our rules to clarify that marijuana is not permitted on our property."

In the 2016 elections, 71% of Florida voters said yes to weed, handily approving an amendment to the state constitution to expand the state's medical marijuana program for patients suffering from specific conditions such as HIV, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s and glaucoma. A bill to regulate the medical marijuana industry bounced back and forth between the state Senate and House before the upper chamber killed it Friday. Now, the task of writing weed-regulating rules falls instead to the Florida Department of Health, which has till July to have legal guidelines in place. 

The Disney ban doesn’t distinguish between medical and non-medical marijuana—even if it’s not smoked. While ripping a bong in the middle of Epcot might be an obvious nuisance for some park-goers, edibles and oils could be less imposing alternatives to medicating in public, though Disney doesn’t allow for either.

Attorney Matt Morgan, an outspoken proponent of Amendment 2, said Disney’s move comes as no surprise, even though it treats doctor-recommended cannabis differently than other doctor-prescribed drugs.

“If someone has a vaporizing pen in their purse,” he told the Florida TV station, “what makes that different than a pill of Oxycontin in their purse, and should people be treated differently?" Mouse-land management seems to be answering that with a resounding yes. 

But what’s the penalty if you ignore the rules and get caught? 

Why, you could go to Disney Jail, of course. The legendary lockup presumably features guards in mouse ears, animated talking handcuffs, and a warden that looks eerily like Beast—but that could just be the weed talking.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.