Is Golf and Cannabis a Match Made in Heaven?

Billboards along the highway point to the one of the local dispensaries. Tacoma-area businesses, including those in the cannabis industry, are preparing for the expected influx of golf fans and others from around the country for the 115th United States Open Golf Championship, to be held June 18-21 at Chambers Bay, in University Place, along the shores of Puget Sound, southwest of the city.

The U.S. Open is one of golf’s majors, one of the biggest tournaments in the country, attracting both the biggest names in the sport and tens of thousands of onlookers.

So it makes sense that dispensaries in and around Tacoma would be gearing up, yeah? After all, all those people coming from out of town, all those tourists and golf fans—that’s gotta be good for business, right?

Depends who you talk to.

“Pot store owners are expecting a week’s of marijuana sales each day of the tournament,” Tacoma City Council member Marty Campbell said in a study the council conducted in April.

Brian Caldwell, who runs the Cannabis Club Cooperative, a medicinal dispensary that serves between 200 and 300 patients per day, has a different take. He says, while sales will probably tick up, it won’t be as dramatic as what Campbell thinks.

“For recreational sales, it will probably increase, but I don’t see it being significant,” Campbell said. “I think we will see small increase, but not for something so much this year.”

And therein lies the key for those who perhaps are looking to invest in the cannabis industry. State Initiative I-502, passed in Nov. 2012, licenses and regulates the production and distribution of cannabis in the state of Washington. Public consumption, whoever, remains against the law.

The website lists more than 350 dispensaries in the state. However, in Tacoma, for example, there are currently only eight dispensaries licensed to sell marijuana for recreational purposes. That fact makes it an investor’s dream going forward.

“I think later on when [legalization] spreads across the nation, then when an event like the U.S. Open comes here then you’ll see a surge in sales,” said Campbell, who is also chairman of the Northwest Producers, Processors and Retailers Association, the largest of its kind in the industry.

Campbell said that recreational marijuana businesses see increased sales when big-name music acts come to the area, or at Seattle Seahawks home football games. As for the U.S. Open, perhaps it’s true that those who partake in golf as spectators don’t exactly fit the profile of clientele the dispensaries are trying to reach.

On the other hand, looks can be deceiving, at least that’s what councilman Campbell is relying on. At the very least, with an industry still very much in its infancy despite the initial explosion of dispensaries throughout the state, the sky seems to be the limit for the future. Some day, maybe marijuana and majors will go hand-in-hand.


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