Activists detained at Six Flags for pro-marijuana shirts
On two separate occasions now, marijuana activists have been detained at Six Flags in Arlington, Texas for wearing pro-cannabis shirts.
The first incident occurred during the summer of 2012 when Waco activist Stephen Carter and his friends went to the park for a fun-filled day of rides.
On that day Carter was wearing a shirt which contained the slogan “Fix the economy, legalize marijuana.”
After purchasing his ticket and then making it through the security line and metal detectors, he waited inside the park near the entrance for his friends. It was during this time a security officer approached and detained him, stating that he could not be in the park due to the offensive nature of his shirt.
Carter offered to turn his shirt inside out but was told that was not an option, and that he would either have to leave the park or obtain a new shirt.
He then questioned the security guard about what was offensive about his shirt, asking if it was the pot leaf. The guard responded by telling him that the image of the pot leaf was fine and that the word marijuana was offensive.
Having no change of clothes, he was faced with the decision of paying $10 for a shirt or leaving the park and not getting a refund for his ticket. Not wanting to ruin the day for his group, he agreed to purchase a plain shirt from the park.
The second incident occurred in early January of 2014 when Fort Worth activist Adam Hess traveled to the park with his wife and children.
After paying over $200 to get in, Hess was detained at the entrance to the park because of his shirt, which featured a marijuana leaf and the words “Cannabis All Star.”
Security officials told him that his shirt was unacceptable due to the family oriented atmosphere they maintain at the park.
Hess was told he could not turn the shirt inside out, but was not told that he had to find another shirt. Instead of purchasing a new shirt, he opted to not wear one. Both activists had to leave their shirt with park officials while inside.
Both activists noted that many people in attendance at the park wore alcohol themed shirts. Several areas inside the park sell alcohol, though consumption is restricted to those areas.
Shaun McAlister, director of DFW NORML, the local non-profit marijuana advocacy organization, also had a somewhat similar experience with Hurricane Harbor, which is owned by Six Flags.
It seems silly to me that an organization like Six Flags would allow t-shirts with a marijuana leaf in the park but not t-shirts with the word “Cannabis” or “Marijuana” written on them. How exactly is the written word more offensive than the shape of a pot leaf, which transcends all language barriers? I don’t think that anyone at Six Flags’ Corporate HQ will be able to answer this question, which is why I’m bothering to ask it. People have actually died while on rides at Six Flags. Conversely, no one has ever died from marijuana use alone.
This past summer, I wore a red “Team NORML” t-shirt to Hurricane Harbor which features a cannabis leaf in the “O” as well as the phrase “Go High or Go Home” along with the silhouette of a wake-boarder on the back. Somehow, this t-shirt was deemed appropriate for me to not only wear into the park (all day) but even have my Season Pass photo taken with it on. It wasn’t until I was handed my new season pass that anyone even mentioned the fact that someone may say something to me about my shirt. Does this sound like consistent corporate policy enforcement to you? Or does it sound like an arbitrary way to discriminate against “undesirables?”
For a moment, let’s imagine a wheelchair-bound military veteran who has been treating his PTSD and other injuries with cannabis, and he decides to take his family to Six Flags one day. He puts on a t-shirt which features the image of a marijuana leaf, his lifesaving medicine, buys his tickets online, and the family hits the road. Once they arrive, they navigate the insanity of finding a place to park, picking up their tickets, waiting in line and finally entering the park, only to be told that daddy can’t come in because the pictures of plants on his t-shirt are “against Six Flags dress code policy.”
To me, this is far more offensive than the word “Cannabis” could ever be – and I think that most compassionate (and educated) Texans would agree. It’s up to us, we the people, to let large corporations like Six Flags know that this kind of “policy” is nothing more than corporate discrimination.
The most recent death at Six Flags was 52-year-old Rosa Esparza who was thrown from the Texas Giant roller-coaster.
Six Flags is well within their rights to deny people entry to their park based on a dress code, however their lack of notice about their discrimination against cannabis themed clothing and inconsistent policy allowing alcohol themed clothing is disconcerting for cannabis activists wanting to enjoy a day at the park.
With 58% of Texans supporting marijuana legalization, Texas could see legalized marijuana in as little as the next few years. Will Six Flags still ban marijuana themed shirts while allowing alcohol themed shirts once cannabis is legalized?
Since publishing this story, well over a dozen other people have come forward with similar stories, all stating that they were told to remove their shirts after having paid and were denied a refund option. Several noted shirts with profanity and even a dead baby being worn inside the park. We encourage anyone who has had a similar experience to share their story in the comments section.
By: Stephen Carter