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For the past five years, Jim McAlpine has watched cannabis and athletics form a strong bond. As the brainchild behind 420 Games, the largest cannabis-focused athletic event in the world, McAlpine is optimistic for where sport and cannabis can take their budding relationship.

Having recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of the 420 Games – an event he’s watched morph from sideshow to certified community presence – McAlpine’s run is far from done. Over the phone from his home in San Francisco, the 49-year-old entrepreneur paints a picture of the progression of the Games. 

“It’s gone beyond an event to become a social movement. There’s huge support behind what we do, and unbelievable comraderie,” he  says, “because it’s a lifestyle really that we’re supporting. The whole goal was always to build a framework for advocacy and help to destigmatize the plant and the people who use it through athletics.”

What was initially a modest and earnest goal has now turned into an event McAlpine would like to see multiplied across jurisdictions. In future, he plans to move the race around the globe, with stops everywhere from California to Canada. Particularly, McAlpine would like to take his Games and message to places where cannabis remains taboo.  

Without trying, McAlpine has turned himself into a strong voice on the topic of cannabis and sport. In addition to his work at the head of 420 Games, McAlpine is also president of AURA Ventures and executive director of the New West Summit. As we speak, he’s excited about the coming day, one he’ll spend interviewing Mike Tyson and other celebrities.

Even with an impressive resume and busy schedule, McAlpine remains focused on the course he first set out. His message remains clear. Only, he says, the audience has started to grow, and evolve. Where five years ago, there were still misconceptions about the mandate of 420 Games, the air, he says, has started to clear. 

“People are a lot more accepting of cannabis and the event now. When I first started this, I don’t think anyone else was talking about it, or doing anything at all similar to what I was doing,” he says. “But now that we’ve been around for a while and people get what cannabis is, they’re really starting to understand that it’s a wellness tool, not a drug.”

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