Question of the Day: Is Pot Smoke a Good Signal?

From a reader named Ben Doty:

Quick question that may benefit from an economist’s perspective, possibly relating to complimentary goods, signaling, expertise, and education:

If you walk into a surf shop and the stench of marijuana nearly knocks you over, does that make you more or less likely to purchase surfing lessons there?

What do you say, readers? I have never been in a surf shop myself; I have, however, been in the pro shop at various golf courses and I can tell you that I have never once smelled marijuana there.

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  1. Jun Sorioso says:

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a study out there measuring pro surfers’ performance against pot intake. But I’d imagine moderate users would have better flow and heavy users would probably be dead.

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  2. Neal says:

    I think there is a higher probability that the lessons would be sub-par if I smelled pot upon entering, as compared to a clean, pot-free store. However, if there are very high reviews on Yelp that say otherwise, I would be indifferent to the smell of pot if the end result is a good lesson.

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  3. Ryan says:

    Smoking pot might help you surf better, but unlikely it will help you teach better. Learn to surf sober, then lighten up with a smoke when you have trouble blocking out distractions.

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  4. Robert says:

    Far less likely! I’d walk out!

    I want responsible instructors, not people who are high, drunk, or stayed out too late to stay awake. If I’m paying for lessons, value for my money dictates I want focus to be on me, not their current stake of intoxication.

    Being intoxicated is no way to run a business. If they’re going to be irresponsible with their own responsibilities, how will they be with my needs?

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  5. Steve C. says:

    I spent a summer working in the pro shop at a local muni, and smelled weed on everyone from fire fighters, to lawyers, to retirees my grandfather’s age. This usually occurred on multiple occasions a week, and often times it was in the early morning.

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  6. Paul in VA says:

    I think pot is a bit of a red herring here. Revise the question to say if when you entered the store there was a pile of empty vodka bottles on the counter. Do you want a lesson of any sort from someone who is drunk?

    EVERYBODY who Drinks, or smokes pot thinks that they handle it just fine. The same way everybody thinks they are an above average driver. The comment about “it makes me sharper” is just plain baloney, and people looking to justify their vices. Drunk driving statistics are clear that even a small / social amount of alcohol has a huge impact on driving ability. But everybody who drinks and gets home safe thinks that they handle alcohol better than others.

    If it smells like Pot, or booze, or whatever, I am outta there, and you should be too.

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    • Gary A Stephenson says:

      I’m an Alcoholic,been sober over 30 years.there is no comparison to MJ and drinking .I’m darned lucky to be alive.I totaled 10 car’s.never killed anyone,but could have killed dozens,or more!

      there are no black out’s with MJ….
      there are none of the effect’s Of Alcohol in a person who only smokes MJ.I’m not drunk now!nor am I high now.If I were drunk right now you would not be able to read these words,if I were slightly inebreated,there would be many spelling errors,and i would get upset and go have more to drink until I passed out or drove home totally smashed and probably wrecked another car killing a whole family!

      I don’t smoke and drive but if i did you would be 100% safer in front,behind or beside me,you would think I was an old man going the speed limit at 30mph and why don’t i move over,because your doing 35….give me a break ….five over the speed limit fits everyone.,i now drive less than that!
      75 on the freeways in Arizona and higher in some places in this wonderful country…..

      I learned great defensive driving when I worked for a major Company….it all goes out the window on the way home from a bar or to many drinks anywhere with yourself or anybody!

      lets test it side by side !Have all the police in any town watch and/or ride along,especially the ones who smoke mj or drink booze.I’ll go against any law enforement official anyware any time in a controlled police test .
      you furnish the now legal MJ and and bottles of Alcohol.

      hmmmm,sorta gets me riled up…sorry for my ranting.

      In a couple years I won’t remember this anyway…so lets do it soon!

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  7. Scott says:

    This question was only published because of the 1980s surfer stereotype.

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    • Gary A Stephenson says:

      oh and I golf,but I’m a real hacker…in GOLF !
      And it is smoked by people on the course…..

      and darned near every where else!
      wake up legalize and make fare rules,consise and to the point unlike Alcohol rules…one drink,x amount of ounces…gimme a break !

      to my friends who drink you know my feelings too and we are still friends.
      if not ,tough!

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  8. Mike M says:

    As a surfer I sort of take offense to the question. Surfers today are athletes. The ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals, the sports governing body) drug tests their athletes on the pro tour. This isn’t the 60’s or 70’s where the question wouldn’t have been so off base, but we have had enormous growth over the last 30 years in our sport.

    The greatest surfer of all time (and arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time) Kelly Slater with 11 world titles under his belt has is pretty anti-drugs and was a vocal supporter of drug testing in Surfing. Sure there are are some surfers who smoke weed, but the sport itself has worked very hard to shed this stereotype and you are just helping it continue. To answer your insulting question, no, I would not buy anything from a surf shop that smelled like weed.

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