There are many talented people working to demonstrate the link between positive health outcomes and cannabis use, but what about in sports and athletics?
To help us answer that question, we’re speaking to Jim McAlpine. Jim is a snowboard company executive and an early advocate for cannabis use among athletes. He created the 420 Games – a multi-sport event company for cannabis users to destigmatize stoner stereotypes and network of professional athletes and advocates working to demonstrate the connection between weed and wellness.
Today, Jim joins the podcast to talk about why skiing and snowboarding go with cannabis like peanut butter and jelly, the power of great live experiences, and his mission to prove that elite athletics and cannabis can go hand-in-hand.
- What Jim didn’t like about conventional ski and snowboard events as a young entrepreneur – and the unconventional strategy he used to poach huge numbers of prospective customers.
- How the 420 Games forged authentic connections with customers in the yoga, ski, and snowboarding spaces.
- How the perception of elite athletes’ cannabis use has changed since the infamous photo of Michael Phelps smoking a bong, how athletes are now advocating for cannabis use as part of their training, and why cannabis is not a PED.
- The do’s and don’ts of incorporating cannabis into events of all kinds.
- Why Jim believes the differences between indica and sativa are a myth and everyone’s reactions are different.
- How the perception of cannabis in the media has become more realistic over the last decade.
“If you have an existing event that’s making millions of dollars a year, you’re not going to want to risk putting weed into it unless you know for sure it’s not going to screw you.” – Lauren Yoshiko
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Rick Kiley: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of The Green Repeal. I am one of your co-hosts, Rick Kiley. I am joined in our office for the first time in a year with Jeffrey Boedges.
Jeffrey Boedges: Greetings from the Big Apple. It’s good to be back.
Rick Kiley: We’re in lower Manhattan. Things are creeping back to life. It’s exciting. Today, we are excited. We are welcoming Jim McAlpine. That’s a ski name if I ever saw it. And he is, of course, a snowboard company executive and an OG advocate for athlete marijuana use. And he has brought sports and cannabis together through endeavors with such as the 420 Games. A national multi-sport event company, 420 Games was created to provide a space for millions of cannabis users who enjoy the plant in both healthy and responsible ways and determined to raise the standards of cannabis use and destigmatize the typical stoner stereotypes. We will talk about that. Jim has created a network of professional athletes and advocates to join him in demonstrating the connection between weed and wellness shared through personal experiences. That goes well together, weed and wellness. Jim is passionate both about cannabis and the power of live experience. We are thrilled to chat with him today.
Rick Kiley: Hello, Jim, and welcome to The Green Repeal.
Jim McAlpine: Hey, guys. I’m happy to be your first guest in a year of post-COVID in the office.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Just the one only in the office.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. We’ve been doing this from our homes, which we can’t see each other and kind of like get what we’re trying to say telepathically as well.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. The jokes aren’t as funny when we’re not in the same room.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. But comedy on the podcast is tough no matter what.
Jeffrey Boedges: There you go.
Rick Kiley: So, I’m just wondering, Jim, we said a little bit about you here, but do you want to give us a little bit more about your background in the sports and cannabis worlds?
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. It was kind of a cool evolution of sorts. So, my full career out of college, I’ve really been in the ski and snowboard industry. I went to Boulder for college and got hooked on skiing so I figured I’d start a ski and snowboard company and I did that for almost two decades. Skiing and snowboarding is in the world of action sports and it’s really peanut butter and jelly with cannabis. It always has been really but kind of been more an unsaid thing in the past. So, out of doing the ski and snowboard thing, I did ski and snowboard shows and put on like live lifestyle events. Once that was kind of secure, I jumped over into cannabis about six-and-a-half years, seven years ago and that’s when I started the 420 Games. And really, it was an evolution from the ski and snowboard lifestyle where the majority of us indulge in the cannabis use both before and after the sport. So, it was really a cool natural evolution.
Jeffrey Boedges: I think you forgot during.
Jim McAlpine: Yes, during as well. Chairlift meetings.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Chairlift meetings. Nothing like the gondola. The gondola always had just a slight funk to them.
Jim McAlpine: You know, we called it the Bongola back in Boulder days.
Rick Kiley: Oh my gosh. Let’s get them all out now, boys.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I lived the two seasons in Vale, so I’ve lived that side of it. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: That’s cool. So, I’m really excited to have you here because Jeff and I are in the events business. We often use a phrase, “We’re event guys,” when we tell people what we do. It seems you’re an event guy as well. So, I’m wondering if you might just talk about some of the events that you’ve involved in, produced over the years, I know you’ve done a few. We’ve spoken already. So, this should be hopefully a lay-up of a question.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. And there’s kind of an interesting little tidbit I’ll throw in during the story. But I started into the ski and snowboard industry out here. I live in Silicon Valley pretty much so I was an Internet entrepreneur where I created really at first it was just a discount card and it evolved into because I’m kind of old now, as the Internet started, it evolved as the Internet started into a discount site, one of the first ones out there for skiing and snowboarding. And from that, I went to a lot of ski and snowboard shows, conventions where I would be selling my products. And I thought the ones that were being put on were kind of lame. They were kind of stale. I was sitting there as a young entrepreneur with piss and vinegar and me saying, “F*ck, I can do this better than these guys.” I went around to the resorts. Fast forward one year later, you’ll like this as event guys, I rented the Santa Clara and San Jose right next to each other so I rented the convention center about a mile-and-a-half or more this kind of established show was and I hired a bunch of pretty good-looking guys and girls to go out. They surrounded this convention center and as everyone was walking in, we gave out free tickets to our show or these guys were charging and literally just like took 90% of their customers and sent them down the road. It was an interesting experience.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. We’ve done stuff like that before, but that’s a good way to get killed.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. When you do it in the wine and spirits industry, they send some guys named Vinny and Rocco to shut you down.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. I won’t go down that road but it got interesting. So, long story short, we worked through it. We kind of took over the shows in California and that’s how I got into this, that events industry. I wasn’t an events guy but I was like, “Sh*t, this looks fun and cool,” and we were successful. Honestly, what we did was make it more of a lifestyle event. So, I’ve used instead of being a ski festival, it became a ski line board and brew festival with a side sponsorship by Jägermeister.
Rick Kiley: Nice.
Jim McAlpine: And everybody had a good time and it became more of a party than this kind of stale convention thing and that kind of evolved and that almost twenty years later, we’re still doing it.
Rick Kiley: That’s great. I love how like the phrase, “F*ck, I can do this better,” tends to be like the starting point of so many business ideas. I think that was our business plan too.
Jeffrey Boedges: That is an entrepreneurial mantra. I think if you don’t feel that way and actually I just wrote this in a deck earlier today, I’m like no one ever started a business and says, “I’m going to work my ass off to get to the middle.” You only do it because you think I can definitely be the best at this.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. No, that’s great. That’s fun. So, then take us to the idea. I mean, I know you mentioned there’s a little natural synergy between cannabis and skiing, snowboarding, but when did you sort of I would say more formally put these things together in a way that you’re trying to sort of create some purposeful synergy?
Jeffrey Boedges: Was this before legal?
Jim McAlpine: No, no. This is kind of right as it became legal in California. Only medicinally to start off with for the first maybe five years. I think it was only medicinal legal here as I did this. But really I sidestepped skiing and snowboarding. I had one of the guys that worked for me kind of just they were established shows. So, I just had my guy run those and I jumped into cannabis for my first foray. I started the 420 Games and they were kind of separate, and it’s interesting. So, I’ll come back but after COVID this last year, all of our events were shut down. And this year I am fusing the 420 Games and the ski and snowboard festivals together where the 420 Games are actually going to take place at the ski and snowboard festivals. And over the last few years, that evolution came because like we were just saying that the synergies were there. So, a lot of the cannabis companies I sold sponsorships to at the 420 Games became interested like, “Hey, we want to go do mainstream events. Let’s go to yoga festivals and ski and snowboard festivals.” So, they started buying booths at our events and the two things just kind of intermingled that way.
Jeffrey Boedges: Right. They almost became the same thing. And then they’re like, “Why do two?”
Jim McAlpine: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: All right. So, wait, so I’ve never been to the 420 Games. My apologies. We can remedy that soon, hopefully, but tell us more about it. Are there events the way the Olympics are set up? Are there different areas where people compete? What goes on there?
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. It’s funny. When we first started this and nobody had done this before, every person kind of scratched their head and we’re like, “What is this? Tell me more.” But I really tried to model it like not your typical like super burner stoner event and wanted it to be built to be an athletic and wellness event, really first and foremost. And then we all happened to be cannabis enthusiasts. So, the goal was to like if you drove by this event, you’d be like, “Oh, that’s a 5K run, not a stoner fest.” And the whole event was built to destigmatize cannabis use. I don’t, for the record, judge stoners. I was one in college and in high school, and I burned and ate Taco Bell and played video games and sat on the couch. That was me for a minute, not me anymore, and I don’t think the majority of cannabis users are stoners. I think it’s the smaller percentage. So, I really wanted to rebrand cannabis through athletics. So, we built it. You would come out. We’d have a professional yogi. Ricky Williams from the NFL came out and did the yoga for us a few times and we would do a warm-up of yoga. Then we would run in multiple cities. I’ll run through them for you later, but we would run 4.20 miles, which is actually 1.1 more miles than a 5K so we called it Going The Extra Mile For Cannabis. Had some really amazing athletes in like incredible world-class times at these events too. Like, people that came out of the woods were coming for real.
And then after that, we would have a village of cannabis companies that marketed their products, whether they were ancillary or flower or edibles. And it was amazing the sense of camaraderie after everyone came through the finish line. We were sponsored by Lagunitas as well so there is beer there. But it really was like this everybody was a cannabis enthusiast and people were just like brothers in arms together finishing this race. There’s a lot of happiness and people knew what they were doing at the race to destigmatize the plant.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I mean, it’s cool that you say that the idea of an elite athlete using cannabis, I don’t think that’s like an idea or a picture that a lot of people have in their head, that those two things can co-exist.
Jeffrey Boedges: I was kind of thinking like maybe you’d had some cops at the back chasing everybody and not the best speed.
Jim McAlpine: That is good.
Jeffrey Boedges: Sorry, Jim. I’m only here to make smart-ass remarks, man.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. No, I mean, inventing a lot of like events in my head that would be inappropriate to the six-foot bong javelin throw like all that sort of stuff. But we’re taking you off track and you’re trying to make a good point.
Jim McAlpine: No, no, and I know we would get that a lot. I don’t mind that at all. But no. So, like two things. One of the guys that I mentioned that would come out to our bed is one of the best ultra-marathoners in the world, runs 100 mile plus races, and wins them. I mean, a badass, as bad as you could get. Now, I remember interviewing him and he basically said like, “Jim, when I’m in mile 97 and trying to crank out the last three miles on a thousand-foot climb like it’s not my calf muscles and my quads that get me through. It’s my brain and cannabis helps me stay focused.” So, that makes sense but when you talk about elite athletes, what I love as I started this, Michael Phelps has kind of been busted for taking bong rips and then Usain Bolt came out as a cannabis enthusiast. You’re talking the fastest swimmer ever in history of humanity as well as the fastest human beings. So, I mean, that makes a massive statement and then the entire NBA smokes weed. Most of the NFL smokes weed.
Rick Kiley: What?
Jeffrey Boedges: I mean, it is so much better to do that to deal with pain, though. I mean, that’s a whole another…
Rick Kiley: Well, that’s the next question here, because we were talking, before this we spoke and you had mentioned athletes who are turning to cannabis as an alternative to opiates to help manage their pain and professional athletes and professional dancers, anybody that’s using their body in hours and hours and hours a day has pain. Can you talk a little bit about how widespread a problem the opiate use is for professional athletes and to what degree you know people are using cannabis as an alternative?
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. I mean, I feel a little bit proud on that subject because I feel like I’m one of many but I think what really did push the needle to help get groups like the NFL and Roger Goodell and pretty archaic people that aren’t into cannabis to have to focus on being able to give them access, their players access to this. So, as we started this, it was a stanch like you’re fined, you can’t play in games, you’re going to lose your career. Ricky Williams left the NFL.
Jeffrey Boedges: You mentioned Ricky Williams. He was the poster child. He used it because he had social anxiety and it was good for his social anxiety, at least that’s the way I understood it. I could be wrong.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. No, he did. And also, those guys are warriors. And so, after every game, they don’t come through the bus. You know, it’s crazy talking to my buddies who are NFL. They’ll give out anything you want in a pharmaceutical format as a painkiller. During the games, they inject them with this stuff called Toradol. So, you can like break your leg but then you don’t feel it when they shoot this into you and then they put you back in the game. So, they’re just fed these chemicals that wreck your liver and your mind and marijuana is just so much better. So, yeah, all those guys and me did a panel at the Super Bowl in Houston and it was pointed right at Roger Goodell. We had ESPN. They’re filming us doing it. Snoop Dogg was there. But many of these things we’ve done I think have helped kind of move that needle for like WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and many professional high-level organizations to say, “Look, we’re going to have to reexamine cannabis. NFL’s moved their policy. NHL basically allows cannabis now, same with Major League Baseball. So, it’s changed a lot over the last five years.
Jeffrey Boedges: Half the NHL is in Canada where it’s legal so they didn’t really have a whole lot of choice.
Rick Kiley: Right. You have it when you lace up your skates.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, I was just thinking that in the future now they have that concussion tent or the injury tent, they should have a weed tent now.
Rick Kiley: Sure.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, he’s going in the weed tent. He must do…
Rick Kiley: You know, it’ll help him. So, you touched on this a little bit, so I actually didn’t know. So, I’m just going to let you reiterate here. There are strict drug testing qualities in pro sports leagues. Performance-enhancing drugs are everywhere from everything from the Tour de France to the Olympics to NFL to baseball. How are these professional leagues thinking about cannabis right now? Have we come miles in a short period of time? It seems like if Ricky Williams was kind of ushered out of the NFL, that wasn’t that long ago.
Jim McAlpine: He quit on his own accord. He was like, “F*ck you. I’m out.”
Rick Kiley: Right. But now where to today where you’re saying that they are much less strict, where do we stand right now in the world of professional sports if you could help us with that?
Jim McAlpine: Well, I mean, in each league, it’s different. I’ll use the NFL kind of their pinnacle and probably the harshest. And it really comes down to policy hearsay. So, if you really dig into it, the NFL tells the guys when they’re going to be tested so it’s not like they don’t know. So, if you really wanted to, you could manage using cannabis and be an NFL player and still get through without being busted. But once you get in trouble, that means for the rest of your career, you’re going to kind of be in the limelight. They have blind testing and whatnot. So, ultimately, just the fact that if you know when you’re going to get tested, you can kind of avoid it but it does come back down to policy. And policy says that cannabis use THC can’t be found in your bloodstream. They do a lot of CBD in the NFL and that’s fairly new. Like a few years back, they wouldn’t even allow CBD, which is a completely non-psychoactive ingredient of the cannabis plant. So, they’ve made baby steps is what I would say. Like, I think it’s probably more for show and because they were backed into a corner and the NFL is, you know, they’re basically run by the pharmaceutical and alcohol industry as well. So, I think they’re hard-pressed to be really positive about cannabis. This is my hypothesis. They’re going to be leaned on from two industries that probably aren’t super high on their market share being taken. So, I don’t think pharmaceuticals or alcohol industries support of other than maybe the wine.
Jeffrey Boedges: Until there’s federal legalization, where they can advertise, well, when weed companies start advertising, watch how fast the NFL chase. Yeah. I agree with you. The NFL is a bit of a read when it comes to what their policies are. They’re going to follow whatever they think is popular.
Rick Kiley: But maybe Pepsi re-ups a new agreement. It just leans into the Doritos as part of the munchies that go into it. You lose some of that beer money, but you get Pepsi.
Jeffrey Boedges: That’ll be the other part of the weed tent when they put it in.
Rick Kiley: The Dorito tent. Perfect.
Jeffrey Boedges: Not just Gatorade now. It’s Gatorade and Doritos.
Jim McAlpine: You know what, that’s an interesting segue. I don’t want to go off point, but I got really close with the 420 Games. I actually sold the 420 Games and I’m actually just clawing it back because the company I sold it to went out of business. But right before I sold it, I was in talks with a major six-figure deal, the first sponsorship ever by a mainstream brand to sponsor it, and it was Domino’s Pizza. So, I got very, very close to having a global brand, Domino’s Pizza, the 420 Games presented by Domino’s, which would have been a huge thing.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. It would be smart for them. It would be totally smart for them because I think…
Rick Kiley: Well, 90% of their pizza is consumed by people who were high.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, not just that, but I mean, just the fact that like if you’re the guy, it’s 11 o’clock at night, you’ve been ripping bongs for the last hour, you’re hungry like you’re going to go to the one that’s like the sponsor of the 420 Games or are you going to go to some other Joe Blow that says, “We don’t support stoners.” You’re going to go to the one that rocks the boat.
Rick Kiley: Agreed. All right. Well, let’s hope you’re able to land that at some point in the near future. I think this idea with the drug testing in these professional athletes in these leagues is important because as you sort of zoom out and look at just people who work in regular companies, people who work for banks and whatnot, like a lot of these companies have drug-testing policies in them for their employees. You know, we as an agency sometimes we have to like look at these agreements. And I think that has to be updated with what’s going on in the legal landscape, I would think, because…
Jeffrey Boedges: It definitely changes by state. So, as the states decriminalize and legalize, I think it’s almost impossible for them to enforce those policies.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. They’re changing that state-by-state pretty quickly. I don’t like the term recreational, but in sports, this is an important thing to focus on. I think it was a question you mentioned you were going to ask is marijuana cannabis is not a PED. It’s not performance-enhancing. It’s just like caffeine like you can take it if it works for you and you don’t have to take it if you don’t want to. I don’t think we’ve talked about cannabis for focus, which is really the other side that I find almost more interesting because it’s very intuitive to be like, “Oh, marijuana can relieve pain after an event,” but a lot of people use cannabis for focus when they’re in the gym. Like if you look back the movie, Pumping Iron, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno in the 70s, they were both smoking weed in the gym while they were lifting to become the most prolific bodybuilder in the world. So, focus is a big piece of why I use cannabis. And again, that’s why he was joking during skiing but I love to puff a little and then bounce some turns. And I’m tunnel vision into it, man, and it really does honestly actually help my athleticism.
Rick Kiley: Well, you’re actually making the case that it should be a performance-enhancing drug then, like the way that you’re talking about it…
Jim McAlpine: Well, go back to the caffeine thing, I don’t think so.
Rick Kiley: I wondered as like Adderall count as a performance-enhancing drug?
Jim McAlpine: One of the guys I’ve worked with, his name’s Eben Britton, he was the co-host of the Mike Tyson podcast for a long time. Eben’s the only NFL player that actually got an exemption to be able to use Adderall. Adderall is not allowed in the NFL.
Rick Kiley: All right. Crazy. Well, so we talked about Ricky Williams. So, we do want to talk about this idea. You with Ricky were opening up a cannabis-friendly gym. But you were opening of a gym. I would love to hear about this venture and how that came about and what’s happening with it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I didn’t know Ricky was a yogi. Is he like really good? I mean, he must be awesome, right?
Jim McAlpine: Yeah, he is. He like went to India and studied with masters and he’s very, very good.
Jeffrey Boedges: I got to check this out.
Rick Kiley: Yoga comes up now in every podcast we do, every episode.
Jeffrey Boedges: Pretty much. They say, yeah, you mentioned peanut butter and jelly earlier. I kind of feel like…
Jim McAlpine: I don’t do yoga, but I’m a big fan of yoga pants up here in California.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. They are omnipresent. They do look good.
Rick Kiley: They’re flattering, especially on Ricky. He works out, though.
Jim McAlpine: He does have nice buns.
Rick Kiley: There you go. So, talk to us about the gym.
Jim McAlpine: As I was talking about focus, I came up literally, honestly with the idea for a cannabis gym when I was about 17 and me and my buddies would smoke weed before we would go lift and we would lift at a gym in my parents’ garage and it was a joke of sorts at that point. Our code word for weed was supplement because we were all weightlifter guys and would be, “Hey, you bring the supplement?” and we would just rip bongs, and then in the middle of our workouts, we’d go out there. So, I’d have this idea. It was a joke. But then as everything came together and I started the 420 Games, I was like, “Sh*t, maybe I could pull this off.” So, I came up with the name Powerplant Fitness that has some dualities to it and I brought that idea to Ricky. He was like, “Hell, yeah, that’s a great idea,” and we teamed up to try and make it happen. We actually got very far down the road. We had a location. We were going to buy a building, we had investors, and the first one was going to be in San Francisco. And this was right as Trump was elected and Jeff Sessions was Attorney General and that just killed everything, scared away all of our investors, and the idea died right there on the vine.
Rick Kiley: Jeff Sessions.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Pretty sure he and Roger Goodell go to games together.
Rick Kiley: All right. Well, do you think an idea that you might resuscitate now that sort of the leadership in administration has shifted at all? And I get the sense that perhaps a fitness center that built like a yoga practice is as much as a foundation as the weightlifting might even be better, especially if you could bring Ricky in there.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah, I mean, out here in the Bay Area in California, there are actually some yoga studios that are yoga weed studios and they have consumption and all that part of the whole thing. And I do really want to bring that idea to fruition. When I did that, we put out one press release for the 420 Games and it was buried in the middle to end of it, just like a sentence about what we were planning with Power Plant Fitness. I woke up I think it was two days later. I didn’t even know this had happened. I clicked on the Today Show and my face and Ricky Williams’s face were on The Today Show and they were making jokes and the media frenzy like I think we got like $4 million of just earned PR media from nothing. And people wrote about it. I got interviewed in almost every magazine and many countries. It was crazy. And then the influx of emails of support being like, “Oh, my God, we want this. How do we get this in our area?” really, really told me that this is something that I think there are so many closeted cannabis users that just want a place to go and be like where it’s okay. So, I think what we’re going to do to not be long-winded is start with boot camps here, as we kind of come out of COVID, get some trainers, do some things in the park like cannabis power plant boot camps and then hopefully that leads into actual physical locations.
Jeffrey Boedges: I hope it leads into better music at the gym because, honest to God, what is with the terrible playlist that everybody has? Like even on a peloton that’s like…
Rick Kiley: Well, I think it’s a licensing issue. They’re trying to get the songs that they don’t have to pay a lot of money for.
Jeffrey Boedges: I think they need to smoke some weed.
Rick Kiley: You heard it here first, folks.
Jeffrey Boedges: Sorry. All right.
Jim McAlpine: Let me suggest wearing earbuds.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I tried that. The problem is like on a peloton or even on a yoga class you got to be able to listen to what’s going on.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. That is true. That is true. And it is pretty bad music now that I think.
Jeffrey Boedges: Oh, it’s horrific, man, and I’m just like I think we got a whole another side business here, which is just like good music weed and working out. I think there’s got to be some kind of crossover there.
Rick Kiley: All right. It’s the third leg of this.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I like to come up with ideas.
Rick Kiley: That’s good. That’s good.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, it’s an idea.
Rick Kiley: So, let’s just talk about back to sort of the 420 Games and some of these other ideas in your relationship with athletes. How are the competitors of the 420 Games? How are they finding their way to the event? Is it an active recruitment on your part? Is it something people hear about and they just sign up for like they would try the lottery into the New York Marathon or something like that? Like how does the relationship between the participants come about?
Jim McAlpine: You know, really, it’s just like a typical race. We market it. We put ads out on social media. I have a pretty good email list and to backtrack really quickly, it hasn’t happened for about two years because I sold it about two years ago. One year before COVID the company has sold it to, like I said, f*cked it all up, went out of business and we restarted. But we did it in San Francisco, L.A., San Diego, Boulder, Denver, Portland, Seattle, and Pittsburgh. And it kind of grew from a couple of hundred people at the first one in San Francisco to where we’d have 3,000, 4,000 people at the starting line of these races. And it was just a really organic groundswell. The companies that we worked with all promoted what we did too, saw the weed companies in California. We’re putting out emails to their database, our sponsors. So, it was something I think that was of interest to people that were of that lifestyle, so it went viral kind of I guess is the best way to say it.
Rick Kiley: Got it.
Jeffrey Boedges: And is it just the race? That’s the only athletic part of it is the 5.1K?
Jim McAlpine: Well, it grew. So, it was really like just the yoga, the 5K. You came in through the finish line crowd and then there’s a big expo area with all these. But it got to the point, the last one I did in Los Angeles, it was awesome. We rented out the entire pier at the Santa Monica Pier and the race was from Santa Monica to Venice, Long Beach. And we had a big village in Santa Monica right at the big pier. I don’t know if you guys know L.A., but these are pretty iconic venues. And we had like 100 vendors and one-on-one basketball tournament and we had a three-on-three tournament in Venice. We rented out the very, very iconic Venice skate wall. We had the bassist of Metallica son came out with a heavy metal band, played Slayer and heavy metal music in the middle of this skate contest with high, high-level professional skaters skating for like $20,000 cash purses. We had jujitsu people fighting like high-level Olympic-level athletes doing jujitsu matches. It was legit. Frank Shamrock and Bas Rutten, UFC guys came out and they officiated an arm wrestling competition. So, it really started to grow and have all these different legs to it. And that’s when I sold it. So, that’s why I’m excited to get it back because it kind of my baby had grown to be ready to go to college, but then they took it away from me.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. I feel like it could be like an X Games too because you mentioned earlier on about really how Alpine sports and weed go together. I mean, I could see this being you could have a winter, well, I guess 420 is 420 but there are Alpine sports that lend themselves well and then there are sort of summertime sports that lend themselves well. I kind of feel like, yeah, I mean I feel like the sky’s the limit with the types of sporting events you might put into a 420 Games.
Jim McAlpine: You’re spot on. Maybe we turn this into the 420 league because in Lake Tahoe, we did a 4.20 stand-up paddleboard race. I tried to do a surf competition. It was just too hard to get put together at that infant stage. And yeah, the ski industry, I know those people well. They’re just not ready yet. We’ve knocked on those doors to try and do a ski comp but the ski industry is not ready to endorse cannabis. Funny they put bars on the top of all their hills and don’t mind getting people drunk and letting them ski down but, God forbid, they smoke a little…
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, but you’re right, though. Those same execs that are saying no are probably bogging up on the gondola on the way down from the top.
Rick Kiley: I’m wondering one question I have because we’ve talked to a lot of different folks who make products in the cannabis industry. Do you find that the people who are athletes who are using cannabis, are they using a certain type of intake more than another? Like I wonder, for instance, someone that needs to have good cardio may not be smoking or doing bong rips, but using a tincture, edibles, or something like that. Are there products that are more geared towards someone in athletics?
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting, I think it’s a personal use thing when it truly comes down to like all the people I know just some of them smoke, some of them don’t. I personally don’t really like to smoke anymore and use edibles just because I don’t like bringing smoke into my lungs if I don’t have to. And I like the long high of an edible but really, a lot of those guys do smoke and I think it just comes down to the personal preference. I do think that there’s a real burgeoning place for athletic-based products for cannabis.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I think like the way that you were describing it a little bit like I think about the way the athletes are involved with promoting supplements and protein shakes and vitamins and a lifestyle. I mean, I wonder if there is a line of products that can’t be high-performance cannabis products.
Jeffrey Boedges: High performance, it’s a whole new thing.
Rick Kiley: Trademark Rick Kylie right now. Sorry. That’s fine. But it feels like there’s an opportunity there and I bet you like that gym experience might be a place to sort of think about bringing those things to bear.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. When we did the 420 Games, one of the hashtags that we had people use when they put photos up is cannaathlete. So, if you look up #cannaathlete, I think there’s 5,000, 10,000 posts of just people doing athletics stuff who like to smoke weed and like really legitimate athletic stuff, not just juggling, hanging out.
Rick Kiley: Your professional hacky sack, is that what you’re talking about?
Jeffrey Boedges: Frisbee. The traditional.
Rick Kiley: Hey, Ultimate Frisbee, that’s a workout. Don’t knock that.
Jim McAlpine: That’s legit, man. I love ultimate Frisbee.
Rick Kiley: Yeah, I’d pass out. Five minutes, I’m done. That stuff, it’ll gas you. All right. So, obviously, you’ve created a lot of events. You’ve worked a lot in the space. I’m wondering do you have some dos and don’ts about incorporating cannabis into an event? Like is there something that you found successful? Are there things that you’re like if you’re thinking about doing this, you should avoid X, Y, and Z because it will not work? I’m just curious. You know, we do a lot in the alcohol beverage place. There’s a ton of compliance around how you deliver a product to somebody. You know, how old they have to be, where you can be, obviously, that sort of thing. So, I’m curious if you have any experience that you can share in this regard.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. I do, unfortunately. Take the pretty strict regulations of alcohol and multiply them times ten and then maybe add four onto that and that’s what place with cannabis.
Rick Kiley: That’s fourteen for everyone counting it on.
Jim McAlpine: And it’s not good. It’s like not only are we both on the taxation and regulatory basis, it’s really screwed, but when you want to put on an event, there are just so many hoops. The rules are different in each state but in California, first off, if you want to have cannabis, you can have the event. You have to have a cannabis license to put on a cannabis event. And those aren’t super easy to get but you can do that if you put some money up.
Rick Kiley: What type of license? Like a retail license or is there a special permit?
Jim McAlpine: Well, just to have cannabis there on any level even it’s weird like just to show it, but yeah, these permits will allow you if you pay the fees and you do everything right, you can have sales at your event, really nice on how those work and all the laws and ways that you have to sell it, it’s ridiculous. And then also consumption just like wine tasting, it hasn’t happened with COVID for a year out here but for many years, the last five years before COVID you could go to any weed event out here, buy your pass and walk around and sample every product from every different company, just like you went at a beer or wine festival. But it’s pretty complex getting all that stuff permitted to do it the right way to not get in trouble. So, the real thing and I think maybe the reason you’re asking is something I want to figure out is how do we use cannabis villages into mainstream events? And I really think it’s going to be people that have specialized companies that really can guarantee. If you have an existing event that’s making millions of dollars a year, you’re not going to want to risk putting weed into it unless you know for sure it’s not going to screw you.
Rick Kiley: Right. Is there a sense that even if you were to follow all of the rules and regulations, have all the permits in place, that there still a sense that someone could shut you down? Like, is that fear there or is that fear none?
Jim McAlpine: It’s weird. Again, it depends on states and what I found through my tours and I don’t know if it’s changed or not in the last year or two, but Colorado is really hard to do things in. It’s kind of the first state to go recreationally legal but along with that came really stringent laws for how you could hold events and everything else around it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. They’re very sophisticated in their application process for any type of license regarding weed, liquor, or actually now gambling. We’ve been on the business end of that process.
Rick Kiley: We’re trying for this. In fact, I don’t know what that is exactly, but…
Jeffrey Boedges: No, no, no, because we don’t do anything at tobacco.
Rick Kiley: True. We do not like tobacco here. All right. Well, that’s interesting to know. So, one thing I love about doing events is that I love the idea of being able to be face-to-face with the consumer, be able to like present a product, get immediate feedback, hear what’s on their mind, and especially in this sort of category of cannabis where I feel like at least if you’re my age, you grew up with the war on drugs and just say no and this is your brain on drugs, all in your mind. There’s a lot of myths and perhaps misinformation that exists. I’m curious if you’ve come across any of these preconceptions or misconceptions. I’m wondering if you’ve heard any that you think are worth relaying because that you really need to be demystified for people. Like what are people thinking that’s definitely wrong?
Jim McAlpine: I get tons of pushback on this. When I’m speaking at an event, people wait for me after I get off stage and want to yell at me because I say this but it’s true and I’ll stand by it. The Indica-Sativa myth I think is the biggest one out there in cannabis that people just steadfastly believe. There’s a big saying like Indica is into couch and Sativa as this uplifting cannabis product where it’s just not true. I believe the power of placebo is incredibly strong. And for the people that believe they’re going to have an effect, that it can make that effect happen. But scientifically, Indicas and Sativas it does not in any way, shape, or form make you more active or more sedative. And in fact, every single person that smokes the cannabis plant has a different reaction. So, two people can smoke the same joint and have an absolutely polar reaction. So, just from that data, it’s literally impossible to say this does this to everyone.
Rick Kiley: So, maybe you know, maybe you don’t know. It’s okay if you don’t know but like, so how are Indica and Sativa then really different? Why does the classification exist if it doesn’t sort of help drive your experience one way or the other? I’m curious.
Jim McAlpine: I’m not a grower, so I don’t want to go too far and say anything that’s misinformation. But all cannabis is Sativa. The cannabis plant is called the cannabis Sativa plant. So, an Indica still is a Sativa. And then there are just differences in the structure, I guess, of the plant chemically. What it really whittles down to past when you’re just trying like that would just be trying to take something and say there are two categories and it’s this and this, and you can’t do that with anything really. Terpenes are in cannabis that are in fruit and everything else that gives its flavor and its smell. So, there’s a really robust terpene profile and there’s many different forms of THC and CBD. I forget how many but I mean it’s a lot. And so, there are so many different active ingredients in every plant that’s what really truthfully is going to give you the effect of the high that you’re going to get. But every human being has something called an endocannabinoid system. So, when you get a runner’s high, it’s not from what everybody always says and it’s…
Jeffrey Boedges: Endorphins.
Jim McAlpine: Endorphins, right. It’s from your endocannabinoid system. You naturally create cannabinoids in your body without you’ve never smoked before. Every human being has this. So, that defines how cannabis is received when you smoke, eat, or bring it into your bloodstream and everybody’s endocannabinoid system is different. I have a super high tolerance. I eat 100-milligram edibles and go for ocean swims. Most people don’t eat more than 5 or 10 and they want to stay in their home. So, everybody’s body and receptors are different and that’s where it comes back to, “Look, there is a difference in the plant and the way it looks, and whatnot,” but you can’t say it’s just going to make you sleepy or active.
Jeffrey Boedges: I would be super paranoid about sharks. I’m just going to say that.
Rick Kiley: Jellyfish are the ones I don’t like. You know, that just like I don’t think a shark’s going to come but like jellyfish is real like you’ll get stung.
Jeffrey Boedges: He lives in Northern California. You know how many people get eaten up there every year? Thousands.
Rick Kiley: No. This is the thing.
Jim McAlpine: Hundreds of thousands.
Rick Kiley: No. I think it’s 10 plus four.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s the number one killer of swimmers in San Francisco.
Rick Kiley: All right. Cool. Also, in our earlier conversations and you touched on a little bit, you talked about your distaste for the word stoner. And we’ve talked with a number of people on this podcast about the idea of what the word stoner evokes and stoner stigma. I’m wondering if you could talk about your experience with the word, why you don’t like it, and what do you think people should be doing in the industry to, I guess, reframe the conversation, reframe the label, and how should we be talking about it?
Jim McAlpine: Well, it’s situational. I don’t like the word stoner when it’s used by someone who’s not a cannabis enthusiast or our brothers in arms. Like, if one of my buddies called me a stoner and we said that word, it wouldn’t really bother me but the connotation from a non-smoker means if I did…
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s a negative.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah, it’s a negative then it’s always been. Even the word marijuana was built to be sound Mexican and used against the plant, really. So, that word to me, if you don’t smoke and you call me a stoner, it’s like calling someone a drunk. It pisses me off and I take offense to it. But if you’re someone who smokes and you’re my bro, then it’s all good. There’s that duality there. I just don’t like the negative connotation of the word.
Jeffrey Boedges: Fair enough.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Do you think that the word that the image in the industry is a challenge that sort of needs to be addressed? Like I think because we’re in marketing, we’re in communications, and we talk about putting events on and if cannabis is to be more accepted widely, do you think the word stoner and the definition needs to be sort of changed or aspired beyond or…
Jeffrey Boedges: I think it just needs a read. I think it needs better PR. We need a better word than stoner. I mean, like enthusiast I think is a good one, which we use frequently.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. Like Wine Enthusiast Magazine, cannabis enthusiast.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Cigar Aficionado. They’re not saying like black lung dude that likes big brown sticks.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. 420 Illustrated. Wait. That’s come up with a bunch.
Jim McAlpine: I consider myself I’d like to I hope to aspire to be a high functioning cannabis user, where I use cannabis and I still live a really functional good life, I’m a good dad and I’m good at business, and I’m a good person. And so, to me, the bigger word, I don’t think the word stoners really been dissected by the industry that much. Maybe because what I’m talking about like the crowd I’m hoping to fall into is a smaller crowd. But I think the word cannabis and marijuana and the term for the plant itself is the one word that there is a lot of sensitivity around. Like if you call it marijuana out here in the industry, people from what I see, they don’t like that. Again, like it’s a word that was built as propaganda. I’ve been taught and other people try and say to me, and I guess I say it now to others, like trying to use the word cannabis, try and make it sound like it’s true scientific name like let’s not call it weed or dope.
Jeffrey Boedges: I retract the ten times I said weed on this call today. Sorry.
Jim McAlpine: No. Again, like if it’s brothers in arms then it doesn’t matter but to the greater world, if we’re going to rebrand cannabis to the people that don’t understand it, those are the words that bring us down versus bring us up. And I think you’re right in everything you’re saying, I’m not challenging you. It’s just you said it, not me, like we need to rebrand a lot of this stuff so the people who bought into this propaganda. I used to get mad at those people and be like, “What the f*ck, man?” Like trying like come at them and be like, “Why do you believe this?” But I’ve slowly come to believe like, hey, some people have been lied to their entire lives and so you can’t just get mad at them. You have to kind of work with them.
Rick Kiley: Well, I think even for us speak for myself but like I grew up with these messages being hammered in that it was bad, that it was evil. And even though you sort of can come around and understand the science and you can understand how it was sort of miscategorized and all of those things, there’s like a Pavlovian even response to it where when it was taught to you when you were young, you still feel like there’s this illicit nature. It always seems to be there even if you know realistically that it’s not. And I think that’s hard for some people to move past and I find it a very interesting marketing challenge.
Jim McAlpine: It might be generational, too, like maybe we have to go through this generation of this gap where as people just have grown up with this and accepted it’s something that’s natural. I laugh at the kids of today like I have tattoos and everyone out here has tattoos and we all smoke weed. I think all of our kids are going to be ink-free and be like not interested in marijuana. You know, they don’t want.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. They’re going to be going to these bars I’m hearing about that don’t have alcohol. Alcohol-free bars, that’s a new thing. It’s going to be happening. And I also think like the baby boomers, I don’t think they have the war on drugs like in their head as much as I think I do. You know, I think like the younger people and the older people seem to be okay.
Jim McAlpine: Those people smoked it in the sixties back when it was…
Jeffrey Boedges: You know, you got to wonder sometimes because you see a lot of these baby boomers now and I’m just like, “Wow, man, did you miss the entire hippie generation? Because you are the most uptight person I’ve ever laid eyes on.” I have like a theory and I’d love to hear your comments on it and we’ve talked about it a lot, and it’s really reframing the occasionality, and reframing the role models. When you see people drink in movies, even to today, oftentimes it’s romanticized. It can be macho and it can be funny with a woman but if you see like a guy getting stoned, you’re right. It’s usually kind of a Dazed and Confused, Cheech and Chong kind of thing. I don’t think there’s a lot of activities going on that right now have a positive connotation as their association with getting high. So, like what you’re talking about now with associating it with athletics I think is an important step forward. But there’s other times too that other times when it might be more on occasion base where we could say, “Look, this is an appropriate, positive time to have cannabis.” So, obviously, you feel that way about the athletic side. I’d be interested to hear how you feel like it could live outside of athletics and be still positive.
Jim McAlpine: Yeah. I mean, the thing that is going to really put impressions on the most people out there is Hollywood movies. And like you just said, if you look back through kind of the movie, Dude, Where’s My Car? and all the movies that…
Jeffrey Boedges: Let’s not bag on Dude, Where’s My Car? Because that…
Jim McAlpine: No, I like the movie but it doesn’t brand cannabis users like Spicoli, like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, one of the best movies of all time. Comedy movies, I guess. But like everybody that’s been a stoner, Brad Pitt in True Romance, all those movies, it’s like, “Oh hey, what’s up, doc?”
Jeffrey Boedges: Cleaning supplies.
Jim McAlpine: And that’s what you were saying. I do think like I’ve just recently kind of noticed in both like Netflix shows and I haven’t seen a ton of movies, but cannabis is beginning to be integrated into more like how it’s truly used. Now, like you’ll see people vaping and usually if they eat an edible, it’s like some psychedelic scene after. And I guess that’s just like comedy like that’s what people are expecting and how it’s written but Hollywood I think would be the biggest rebranding of the planet and how it’s used if they would get around or somehow there’d be something put together that did it differently.
Rick Kiley: All right. Let’s come up with the idea.
Jeffrey Boedges: I’m all for it. I think we need to show how you can become cool.
Rick Kiley: Wait. It sounds like a peer pressure thing when you say it that way.
Jeffrey Boedges: No. It’s more like just…
Rick Kiley: Hey, kid. You want to be cool?
Jeffrey Boedges: More like you want to relax. You want to be able to chill the f*ck out. Try a little of this. Just take this, dial it back from eleven in this time of great rancor, enjoy this and just try to get along.
Jim McAlpine: You know, what’s awesome? Out here, the beverage scene in cannabis is really exploding. I have one of my friends owns a company called Vertosa that does beverage infusion of both CBD and THC. But I mean, you can get any form, you can get things that taste just like hard alcohol that have no alcohol and have THC in them from everything. And beer, anything that doesn’t have alcohol, and it gets you high now. So, I love the aspect of being able to sit with people that want to drink because I don’t judge anyone that drinks. I don’t drink anymore because I’m an idiot and I have a drinking problem so I quit. But I don’t judge anyone that can drink and be functional. So, I love to be able to go have a drink. And people ask me why I’m not drinking. I’m just sipping on some weed. So, that combination of seeing the beverage category fuse into normal life is going to be really interesting and cool.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I agree. I think it’s an interesting development and I think just getting rid of the hangover in your life is going to be attractive to a lot of people. So, I think there’s a lot of places to grow there. All right. We’re coming towards the end of our time here. I’m just curious, we talked a little bit about expanding the 420 Games. Do you think you might think about geographically holding it in different locations as more of these states sort of legalize across the country?
Jim McAlpine: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the plan always had been to have a tour nationally and hopefully globally. So, I think we knocked off before we sold it. I think we were up to eight or nine cities we’ve done it in. So, yeah, I think we’ll probably go back and relaunch in those cities that we’ve done it in. And then I’d love to do it in New York and on the East Coast. To me, it’s like we started in the States where I started this in California then we went to Colorado and Oregon. So, I mean, we were at places where the needle have already been moved. Like this assh*le in Nebraska that just made these statements like marijuana is going to kill your kids if you legalize it. I want to go to places like that where we can make a real difference and teach people through – words are just overrated and data can be skewed anyway. So, when you see a bunch of people that are fit and good-looking people out there, athletics running like that says a lot more than just someone saying something.
Rick Kiley: I think it’s great.
Jeffrey Boedges: He’s one of the guys that could be cool, Rick. That’s what I’m saying.
Rick Kiley: I get it, Jeff. I get it. But you just got to find a way to say that it’s not, “It’d be cooler if you did.” That’s the line that I keep hearing.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, I wouldn’t walk away from that one either.
Rick Kiley: All right. So, listen, we do call this The Green Repeal for a reason, and we’re actually, I’m going to tease it. We’re going to have an episode coming up on hopefully our 420th episode where we actually do look back at all the predictions that the guests have made. But we’re curious your thoughts on when you think cannabis will be federally legal in the United States if you believe it at all.
Jim McAlpine: I’m heavily invested in the stock market and cannabis, so I generally am planning on going legal and that’s going to be a very happy day.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. We’re all adding to our positions. I get it. Yeah.
Jim McAlpine: I think hopefully during Biden’s administration here this first four years, I think it will happen. I think it will be near the end of his term. Maybe if everything goes the way I hope, he’ll use it as a reelection, time of his reelection.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, that’s good. We’re all hoping for that, too. And of course, if you’re out here in our neck of the woods, we’d be happy to give you a hand with any of these 420 Games happening in Jersey, in particular, which just went legal. In New York, which the domino is going to have to fall soon. I mean, that whole northeast corridor is going to.
Jim McAlpine: Well, we all know too like weed delivery started in New York. I remember like 15, 20 years ago getting out of college and my friends like, “No, I just beeped this dude.” He’s at my house in like three minutes with like all this different weeds. So, you can pretty much still get it in New York if you want to.
Rick Kiley: Three minutes would be pretty fast but, yeah, it was an efficient system. Cool. Well, Jim, thank you so much for joining us today and we really loved having you on. Good luck with the 420 Games and getting that back and going and all your future endeavors.
Jim McAlpine: Thank you, guys. Thanks for having me.
Rick Kiley: All right. Cheers.