As the cannabis industry continues to create opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship, businesses’ contributions to charitable causes have increased heavily. For nearly a decade, cannabis businesses have been giving back to their communities and The Clinic is no exception. Last week at Arrowhead Golf Club, The Clinic held its ninth-annual Clinic Charity Classic.
Last year, the event raised $116,000—and this year they topped that number before the tournament even started. In his opening remarks, CEO Ryan Cook announced that $200,000 of their $250,000 goal had already been met.
Thanks to the proceeds, The Clinic continues to be the largest donor for Denver Walk MS, which is hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Every May, Denverites gather in City Park for a 5K run and with an average of 10,000 runners each year, Denver’s walk is one of the largest in the country. This year, for the first time, The Clinic also benefitted the Rocky Mountain MS Center, which is dedicated to improving the lives of those with multiple sclerosis, as well as related neurological disorders.
The Clinic Charity Classic has benefited the National Multiple Sclerosis Society every single year, partly because the dispensary’s history is rooted in the cause. The first 23 employees of The Clinic all became friends at the University of Colorado together and originally got together every August to play golf in celebration of Cook’s birthday. One of the employees, Jay, would also invite the group to walk the MS Run with him every year in honor of his father, who died from the disease.
In 2010, Cook decided to merge the two passions and host a charity golf tournament for multiple sclerosis through The Clinic and invite other cannabis brands to come together for the cause.
Heather Salisbury, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s manager of healthcare provider engagement for Colorado and Wyoming, spent the day talking to sponsors and golfers and was surprised to find that many attending the event were there in honor of friends or loved ones who have lived with the disease.
“We’ve been talking to the sponsors, talking to the golfers and almost everyone we’ve talked to has a connection in some capacity,” Salisbury said. “It’s wonderful to see people are out here because they’re passionate about golfing and passionate about supporting the industry and passionate about supporting The Clinic, but the vast majority of people I’ve talked to also have a personal connection to MS.”
“If I could wish for anything, it would be for more people to be educated, whether they choose to utilize [cannabis] or not,” Salisbury said.
As marijuana legalization swept the nation, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society received increased interest from patients inquiring about using cannabis as medicine. Salisbury suggested patients do their research about marijuana, just as they would for any other medication, drug, vitamin, or supplement.
With calls coming in from all over the country, she said most of the battle people face is figuring out the laws where they live and learning how to consume legally.
“Especially as more states move to legalize medical access, we do get a lot of questions. We also get questions from people in states that have not legalized access who are just wondering, one if it’s an option, and two, to better educate themselves about potential benefits or risks and just knowing what questions to ask,” Salisbury said. “If I could wish for anything, it would be for more people to be educated, whether they choose to utilize [cannabis] or not, just be aware and well educated.”
Many familiar faces return year after year to the tournament, some even reserving the same hole each year. The latest tournament welcomed several new sponsors, including GoFire, a “smart” vaporizer that helps you figure out the right products for you.
GoFire, which will officially launch this fall, has created a vaporizer that can microdose concentrates in as low as 2.5 milligram increments and heat to a customizable degree. The vaporizer pairs with a platform that allows users to track individual sessions and rank each strain for a desired effect. Once users identify strains that work best for them, that information is shared with other users who can find the best strains for their conditions. Additionally, a geosearch option allows users to search for specific strains available for sale near their area.
GoFire has teamed up with Colorado State University researchers and will be sharing the strain reviews to aid in their cannabis research and for the information to be shared with physicians. The idea, founder John Woodbine explained, is for doctors to recommend more effectively and patients to consume more confidently.
“For everyone that has MS that is using the GoFire application, the goal is to learn from them and anonymously share that information with the community,” Woodbine said.
CEO of edible baked good company Sweet Grass Kitchen Julie Berliner said she’s happy to return to the tournament for the fifth year in a row. In 2014, with the event held at City Park Golf Course Berliner recalls a very different vibe than the one today.
“That first year, Ryan (CEO of The Clinic) was driving around on a golf cart bringing everyone to their holes and it was madness,” Berliner said. “It’s really amazing to see it come this far.”
Next to the Sweet Grass hole, Wonderleaf was excited to return for the third year. Wonderleaf is a raw CO2 concentrate manufacturer founded by a mother and son from Sedalia, Colorado, both of whom were in attendance at the tournament. Wonderleaf makes vape cartridges, cannabis oil, concentrates, and body butter.
CEO Patricia Noonan decided to start the company with her neighbor, Roxanne. When Roxanne’s husband was diagnosed with cancer, she started growing cannabis for him to medicate. They started talking about the benefits he was seeing and decided to get into the business together. Her son, Kelby Cross, graduated with a degree from UCLA in psychobiology so, with his expertise, Noonan figured they could find their niche developing concentrates.
Cross says the company has had several caregivers for MS call asking for specific strains.
“We’ll work with them to ensure they have access to that strain more often,” Cross says. “The reason we maintain that strain specificity is so if somebody finds a specific product that benefits them, we want them to be able to repeat that benefit.”
Cross says one of the major benefits of cannabis is that people are able to take their healthcare into their own hands to find what works for them. As a new company in the industry, he enjoys coming to the tournament to get to interact with veteran companies.
“Being here is kind of a big deal for us, especially since our first [tournament] was when we were only a couple months old. We were definitely little fish in a big pond that first year so it’s really fun to get more recognition year after year and have people come up and recognize us,” Cross said. “Playing with the big boys like this is fun. It gives us something to aspire to.”