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DENVER — The Colorado Symphony Orchestra said Tuesday it will play a series of "cannabis-friendly" fundraising concerts sponsored by the state's burgeoning pot industry.
The state's only full-time professional orchestra hopes the unusual shows dubbed "Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series" will boost its audience as it struggles with dwindling attendance and shrinking budgets.
"The cannabis industry obviously opens the door even further to a younger, more diverse audience," symphony CEO Jerome Kern told The Associated Press.
In return for sponsorship, marijuana-related companies get "the legitimacy of being associated with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra." he said.
The event, however, is strictly BYOC — bring your own cannabis, according to an events listing on the symphony website that says pot will not be sold.
Richard Yost of Ideal 420 Soil, which sells soil and other cultivation products to marijuana growers, sees sponsoring the concerts is a chance to link his company to one of the best orchestras in the nation and to make the point that pot consumers can be clean-cut and sophisticated.
"You can be intelligent and savvy and enjoy cannabis as well," said Yost, adding that he plays Mozart while he works on business plans.
Judith Inman, a member of a volunteer guild that has organized balls and other more traditional classical music fundraisers in Denver, has reservations about the marijuana mash-up.
"I know that the symphony needs new sponsors, and they are trying to go after a younger group," she said. "I just don't think this is the way to go about it."
Kern said he has heard complaints from at least one musician and from symphony supporters about the upcoming concerts.
Jane West, whose Edible Events Co. is organizing the series, said concertgoers will be able to smoke pot in a separate area at the gallery. Guests must be at least 21 and purchase $75 tickets in advance. Sponsors include Ideal 420, which is based in New Hampshire, and Colorado-based marijuana retailers.
"We try to create upscale events where people can come and enjoy some cannabis just like they would a glass of wine," West said.
For the final show at Red Rocks, which is owned by the city and county of Denver, organizers intend to follow rules dictated by police, West said.
Smoking pot at the famed venue is officially banned, though that was flouted long before recreational marijuana became legal.