Jim McAlpine, Founder of The 420 Games & Co-Founder of New West Summit
Jim McAlpine, a 20+ year entrepreneur in the ski and snowboard industry, was hit hard by the California drought and the lack of snowfall that came with it. Also a husband and dad to 3 and 6 year old girls, he knew he had to pivot quickly and find a new niche as a businessman. He turned to cannabis, something that he had enjoyed for much of his life, and fused that interest with his professional skills in large-scale event planning.
Now, Jim is the President and Founder of The 420 Games, a traveling sporting event series that invites athletic cannabis consumers to have fun, compete, and raise awareness of just how responsible and active the cannabis community can be. Events were organized in Lake Tahoe, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and Santa Monica during 2015, and he’s already planning tours through California, Colorado, and Oregon for 2016. With sponsors like Weedmaps, Eaze, O.PenVape, and Harborside Health Center, The 420 Games events will definitely be a big part of the community in the coming years.
The 420 Games
In late November of this year, Jim will be trying his hand at a new kind of event: The New West Summit in San Francisco. This B2B trade show, Nov. 20-21, will showcase the very best of technology, media, and innovation in the cannabis industry, similar to what TechCrunch Disrupt has done for the mainstream tech community. Read Jim’s story and get inside the mind of this masterful event planner and cannabis entrepreneur.
What made you choose to join the cannabis industry?
Two things really. My long-term companies in the ski industry I had run for 18 years were suffering due to a severe lack of snow, so the writing was on the wall, and it was time to start something in a new field. Also, I have been a lifelong cannabis supporter and have used cannabis to help better my life in many facets. The ability to help others realize that cannabis can help them was a driving factor to jump into this industry.
What skills from your previous experience helped you in your new venture?
As I came into this industry, I looked at what my past strengths in the ski industry had been. I was very strong in putting on events and had a lot of success in that realm, so I decided to look at creating some type of event series in the cannabis world.
When did you realize the ‘green rush’ was coming?
I saw that it was coming well before I decided to jump into the industry. I had been following it for a few years. Actually, it was a blessing in disguise that the ski industry was in such a lull, as I probably would not have jumped over if things had still been going really well for my snow companies.
Specifically, how are you impacting the cannabis industry?
What we are doing is very unique. Instead of using words, we are using athleticism to show the world cannabis users are not stupid, lazy or “stoners.” It has struck a chord with many who share similar lifestyle values and goals. Through our events, we are allowing many people who would otherwise not feel comfortable coming out and saying they are a cannabis user, to do so in an environment that is safe, secure, and supportive.
A very important part of The 420 Games is that we strive to teach youth to abstain from using cannabis until they are old enough mentally and physically to do so. Instead of preaching to them “JUST SAY NO,” we use the fact that a developing athletes body and mind can be stunted by cannabis use and it is best to wait till you are at least 18 to consider it.
Who do you consider your role model or mentor? Why and how did this person impact your life?
My younger sister. She taught me a lot. It may sound strange, but my younger sister has always been someone I admired. She has taught me how to be nice and good to people. Probably one of the most important qualities in a human.
Tell me about an esteemed achievement of yours.
I once rented out AT&T Park in San Francisco to put on a big ski and snowboard event. Being a lifetime baseball player and fan, it was an amazing day for me personally to be able to actually rent the ballpark that the San Francisco Giants played. I also conquered the swim from Alcatraz while on cannabis.
How would you advise someone who wants to get his or her start in the industry?
JUST DO IT. You need to be all in – you can’t be scared of judgement, or want to do it on your terms. You must embrace that cannabis is a good thing and come fully out of the closet.
What inspires you? Where do your great ideas come from?
My daughters and my wife. I love being with my family. I work too hard, but I do it so I can give them a great life. And that makes me feel good. Family is the most important thing in my life.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader in this space?
I make sure I always follow the mission statement of The 420 Games, and use cannabis in healthy, active and responsible ways in order to be a role model for others.
A year from now, how do you think our conversation about the ‘green rush’ will be going?
Ha, ha, ha…. We’ll be laughing and giving each other high fives for being smart enough and having the “balls” to be part of it. And reaping the rewards as well.