Nearly 100 people took to the links at Park Hill Golf Club on Thursday, July 27, to donate money and divots to the Third Annual Cannabis Charity Open. The tournament was sponsored by a variety of companies in the cannabis industry and benefited future leaders in a fight all too familiar to many of its players.
Raising funds for Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a nationwide organization of students fighting to end the drug war and reform drug policy, the golf tournament brought in an estimated $8,000 to $10,000 from donations and entry fees, according to event organizer Luke Ramirez.
Ramirez, a former boardmember of SSDP, credits the organization with creating the foundation for cannabis legalization in Colorado, when it helped petition Colorado State University to penalize cannabis possession on campus the same way it did alcohol.
"They initiated the legalization of marijuana," he says of SSDP. "At CSU, they were able to get the penalties for cannabis to be the same as alcohol – the first of its kind. That initiated the group in 2005, which initiated the first attempt at legalization, which was eventually successful in 2012." In 2005, the same year that CSU changed on-campus penalties for cannabis possession, Denver also legalized possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, becoming the first major city in te United States to do so.
Last year, the Cannabis Charity Open benefited the Denver Colorado AIDS Project. Ramirez calls it a "fantastic group that does phenomenal work," but this year his team decided to go in a different direction with SSDP.
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"Every dollar they get is well spent on college kids to become the leaders of our country and help fight against the drug war," he says. "I think we're going to stick with this organization going forward."
SSDP neither condones nor condemns drug use, according to its values statement: "Instead, we respect the right of individuals to make decisions about their own health and well-being. We promote youth civic engagement as a critical tool in reforming drug policy."
Nearly thirty companies, most of them in the cannabis industry, sponsored the tournament, including Incredibles edibles, The Hemp Connoisseur magazine and High Rollers, the dispensary that Ramirez founded and co-owns. Players included dozens of members of the cannabis industry, everyone from growers to software supervisors, general managers and more. But many of the players were simply golfers who were looking for organized competition.
Nature's Gift Shop, the tournament's premier sponsor, came all the way from Pueblo after reaching out to event organizers. "It kind of freaks people out when we say we're located in Pueblo," Nature's Gift Shop owner Susan Irey says. "But we're all about charity, and this event seemed perfect."