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U.S. Open Allowing Spectators to Carry Marijuana

U.S. Open Allows Spectators to Carry Marijuana
Photo by Brian Brake/Flickr

Industry Events

U.S. Open Allowing Spectators to Carry Marijuana

The golf crowd is not one usually associated with progressive marijuana policy, and yet as the U.S. Open begins this morning in Tacoma, Washington, the tournament will allow spectators to bring marijuana to the course.

When people head onto the grass of the Chambers Bay course from June 18 to 21, volunteers will be checking the attendees’ bags and confiscating items including weapons and water bottles, but not taking anyone’s personal supply of a different sort of grass, event organizers told SB Nation.

The United States Golf Association, the organization that hosts the U.S. Open, could have decided to enforce its own rules as a private event or to follow federal law as a national organization. But instead, the organization decided the tournament will comply with Washington’s state laws, which allow for marijuana possession but not public smoking — so attendees could still face repercussions for sneaking off to the woods to light up.

This is the first U.S. Open to be held in a state with legal marijuana, though the football and baseball sporting communities in Seattle have been dealing with changing the drug rules since marijuana was legalized in Washington in 2012, they reached a different conclusion. In 2013, the Seattle Mariners asked the city to keep dispensaries far away from their Safeco Field stadium because their games “attract families and kids in great numbers.”

Chambers Bay is close to many dispensaries, with five dispensaries within five miles of the course, and yet most of the dispensaries have seen a drop in customers since the start of the tournament.

“This has actually been one of our slowest days ever,” said Shane Sweetwood, the manager of Left Coast Cannabis, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Tacoma. “It’s kind of surprising. I’ve been golfing for five years, and I always find people smoking weed out there on the course.”

For Rainier On Pine, a recreational dispensary close to Chambers Bay, their clientele usually consists of marijuana tourists, and while General Manager Jeff Mullens said he had seen some customers in golfing attire, the dispensary has seen no particular uptick in patrons since the tournament began.

Next year, the U.S. Open will be hosted at the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, where neither recreational nor medical marijuana is legal, though some lawmakers have a bill in committee that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. It is unlikely that the USGA will continue its marijuana-friendly policy in the face of strict local laws.

What do you think? Should marijuana be allowed at major sporting events? Tell us in the comments below.

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