Keir Dillon spent his professional snowboarding career specializing in the half pipe and is regarded by many to be one of the world’s best riders. He accumulated Two Bronze Medals at the Winter X Games for the Snowboard Superpipe, took back to back Gold Medal victories at the World Superpipe Championships in 2004’05, secured a 2nd and third place finish in the United States Open and much more.
On October 17, 2018, the world witnessed a historic moment as the Government of Canada legalized cannabis, providing an opportunity for medical professionals, industry representatives and athletes to step forward. Since that day we’ve seen a ripple throughout the world, with countries opening their arms and sporting leagues loosening their stance.
With a shift in mindset, sporting leagues have started adopting new policies allowing for cannabis consumption as well as pledging funds for research. Athletes are no longer living in silence, sharing their journey’s in an effort to foster the Sports Cannabis movement forward and break the stigma.
For decades athletes have endured a silent battle with opioids and painkillers. In early June, Johnson and Johnson released a statement confirming they’ve ended their opioid business in a 230 million dollar settlement with New York. A small step in the right direction, cannabis is slowly moving to the forefront as a clean alternative without the long term side effects.
Pushing for education, mental health awareness and a transparent conversation, Keir Dillon shares his journey with Cannabis and the pivotal role it’s played in his life. He discusses the relief it’s provided him as well as how it’s helped him manage anxiety, stress, panic attacks and regain a normal life without having to resort to pharmaceuticals.
Keir Dillon entered the snowboarding world at a young age, instantly lighting up the scene with his undeniable talent, flair for style and effortless big air tricks. Snowboarding started dominating mainstream culture in the mid 90’s, becoming an official Winter Sport at the Nagano Olympics in 1998.
Early on, Keir was featured in a short snowboarding movie Victims, showcasing his talent, style and unique ability to float out of jumps. The following year Keir started paving his path towards a professional career at the Junior World Championships in Japan.
With an innovative style, a relentless work ethic, and absolute passion for snowboarding, it wasn’t long before Keir was noticed by an up and coming brand.
“When I first started, you could go on Thursday nights, and there was like, one trail…The sport was really just developing at that time. I think after a little while, we started to do some contests and we’re like, maybe we can get some free stuff, and then, you know, we win a trophy, and then later, it was winning some cash. I think 15-16 was when I first got approached by Burton, for a bunch of free products, and some help with travel, and I was like, wait a second, people actually pay you to do that?! That just opened my mind, right…I’m from a small town in Pennsylvania, you know, kind of in the middle of nowhere. So the idea of really getting paid to do what you love or getting paid to snowboard, and that really turned into something because in the beginning it really wasn’t even thought of…”-Keir Dillon
At the beginning of his career, snowboarders, coaches and sponsors took notice of his talent, fearless attitude and obsession with big air. His love for flying and Michael Jordan’esq hang time helped Keir dominate tricks like the Wet-Cap 900 McTwist, Front Side 7oo’s and more. Keir went on to conquer the snowboarding world, with his undeniable style and passion for the game.
For Keir, the experiences were epic and addictive. Snowboarding became his world;
“I used to snowboard one, because my older brother skied and I grew up skateboarding. but really, it was a great both escape from thinking and you know, having ADHD and dyslexia and stuff, you could just go there and you versus the mountain in yourself and in carve and have fun. “-Keir Dillon
Early in Keir’s career, Cannabis took front stage at the Nagano Olympics with Ross Rebagliati testing positive for cannabis. Despite the prevalence and surge in popularity, athletes like Keir were staying clear of all cannabis consumption in fear of testing positive and missing out on potential competitions.
“During my snowboarding career, 1st -I was straight edge until I was 21. So I didn’t smoke, do anything, and it was kind of partway through my career when I got into drugs, other drugs. For snowboarding, it was really Advil, and then I had a bunch of different surgeries, there was this drug called Vioxx, which later got taken off the market but I mean, it would make you feel amazing. It was clearly terrible for you.
When I was actually snowboarding, cannabis still had that stigma for me. It was there, people were doing it. There’s a lot of professional snowboarders that were using it. I mean, even just the first Olympics with Ross Rebagliati, the Canadian, right, he got busted for cannabis. They were testing for it, so having pee tests when you’re trying to qualify, and having not really smoked it just -it wasn’t something that I looked to. I didn’t even really know to look to it (cannabis), right. It just still had that stigma with it, and I usually wasn’t exposed to it, so I didn’t do it during my snowboarding career.”-Keir Dillon
Two and a half years ago, Keir experienced his Cannabis Ah-Ha moment, deciding to incorporate the plant as a clean alternative to help with panic attacks, anxiety and sleep. Battling years of reliance on pharmaceuticals, Keir wanted to wake up and take back control. During the rehabilitation process he was introduced to CBD;
“I was living in Austin. I was getting completely sober off of all drugs. But really, the pharmaceuticals I had been taking were Adderall and Klonopin, which is an anti panic attack medicine. I’ve been taking it for about 10 years, doctor prescribed. When I came off of it, I mean, my nerves were shot, my brain was shot, everything was shot, but I was trying to not have panic attacks or not having anxiety, and I was introduced to CBD in Austin. It was just like holy cow. It was actually cutting it to a point where I could function and then just finding, you know, better CBD and just taking it more regularly. It completely replaced Klonopin, which is a pretty gnarly benzo. So that was really the introduction to it, and then you know, I’d worked with a CBD company. Learning more about CBN and just some of the other cannabinoids. I still take it for sleep and stuff and taking cannabis more towards the end of the night as well just to kind of help my brain relax and mellow out, which was really the whole reason that I got hooked on Klonopin, I remember laying in bed crying, thinking I wish my brain would just turn off.”-Keir Dillon
With a handful of states legalizing the recreational use and sale of cannabis, individuals from all professions and backgrounds are recognizing an opportunity to normalize the cannabis conversation. It’s taken government bodies too long to wake up and dismiss outdated philosophies. Unbeknownst to many, the Cannabis plant was cultivated and used for medicinal and industrial benefits for decades. Western medicine had adapted the plant until restrictions were placed in the mid 1930’s, ending all use of the plant in 1970 when the U.S. government listed Cannabis as a Schedule 1 Substance.
For centuries, many different cultures used the plant as a natural medical application to treat an array of ailments. With the reemergence of cannabis and the pivotal role it’s played, Keir’s noticing an uptick in use and acceptance amongst all communities.
“I think like anything, once you’re open to it – you’re open to it, right? I think it almost tilts the scales of how you see things. I mean, to me, it just seems everywhere, right, I live in California, so there are dispensaries everywhere. It feels very normalized. I work for a cannabis company, right, I think even on top of that, just the amount of older people that I see going into dispensaries or in conversations, just people talking about it, it’s just the energy that everyone is putting into it and the people that are really leading this charge, but I also think, you know, YouTube and videos and platforms, you know, when I think back 15 years ago, information was really coming from a few sources, right, where now you can actually learn from your peers, you can learn from doctors in other places. I think many different drivers are helping abolish the stigma and really allow people to understand the healing properties.”-Keir Dillon
Since retiring, Keir has stayed busy, taking on hosting duties for Fuel TV & ESPN and later creating Dream Watchers and Creative Visionary Frends. Today Keir is working on the green front making waves in the cannabis industry bring unique offerings to the forefront.
“On the Cannabis side, it’s a startup out of Palm Springs. We’re doing an indoor grow & we just cropped the seeds two days ago, which is exciting, and then also doing edibles. Starting with chocolates, it really focused on the novice and cannabis sensitive people, kind of like people like myself. We’re trying to make the entry for them, the communication very simple, the education is a lot & understanding the dosing. For me it’s a massive part of my life, but if I take too much (cannabis), it’s crazy paranoia, and just not a good experience. So really trying to make sure that as people get into it, they understand what they’re doing, what they’re learning how to take it, just so they can have the best experience. Right? Like if you’ve ever had an edible experience, that’s not rad. It’s pretty horrible and usually that comes in the beginning. I think that as we innovate, one of the main things is just education for people.”-Keir Dillon
With innovation and an ability to foster the Sports Cannabis movement forward, Keir believes we have a real chance to shift the perception. Looking to the future, he believes the focus should be on education, normalization and social equity.
“Education is everything right? Because without that -there is a thought of stigma and then if you’re past the stigma, there’s still the use case and what is best for you and what can happen, the different cannabinoids and just the different elements of it. Right? Even just the broad strokes really can affect your experience. Social justice is massive. It’s just beyond saddening, I’m sure that people are still getting arrested today, while here in California, we’re selling tons of it, right. The normalization, it’s how can you have alcohol be so normalized?! When you see the damage that does to humans and to their families, to everyone that’s involved with it, with anyone that is an alcoholic or consumes a lot – and it’s the same with smoking?! right? Those things are horrible, but yet they’re somewhat normalized. So cannabis definitely should be further on top of the mountain.”-Keir Dillon
Athletes from across the world are taking part in a global sports cannabis movement to change the perception and push for an even playing field. Today the industry is ripe with opportunity to grow the plant and create real change.
Collectively as a community we have a chance to provide a new path for cannabis and start the process of normalization. All we have to do is jump in! Keir shares invaluable advice for anyone entering the industry.
“My advice would be similar to just how you get in sports, right? You kind of just fall in -for the love of it, right? The love of the people, the love of the game, the love of the feeling you get when you’re doing it, and, in cannabis -the people that I’ve met in the industry, the culture, the mindset. The love for the plant, the love for the people that are in the industry, there’s so many similarities. And that’s really what has drawn me in, you know, helped me get excited about this being a really long term thing. With the CBD company, just being on the farm and growing hemp and then you know, cutting it and hanging it and just being a part of that whole process. As an athlete, just especially in snowboarding or surfing, you are working with nature, you are kind of one with it, and it’s kind of that same vibe, right? It’s also just love that it’s new. Action sports, when I started – there was tons of innovation, something that you didn’t think was possible three months ago, everyone was then doing it later that year. The same thing with cannabis, right. You think that it’s like, oh, it’s coming really far, but it’s still just the beginning.”-Keir Dillon
GET IN TOUCH WITH KEIR DILLON
Interview // 24
Athlete/Guest : Keir Dillon