Jerry Garcia’s Grateful Dead Recreational Cannabis Label is Leaving California!
One of the most famous marijuana users in California history is Jerry Garcia. Garcia, a native of San Francisco, led the Grateful Dead for 30 years as the city rose to prominence as a center of counterculture, all the while openly and jokingly using marijuana. His pipe is regarded as a piece of cannabis history in California. But not even the well-known Jerry Garcia name could withstand the tumultuous legal marijuana market in California.
A spokeswoman confirmed to SFGATE that the Garcia Hand Picked brand, which was introduced by the late musician’s family in 2020, has left the state. Garcia’s departure comes amid predictions by cannabis experts that the California marijuana sector could see a “mass extinction event” this year, with thousands of businesses anticipated to close their doors.
The Garcia brand likely learned the same lesson that all of California’s marijuana companies have understood: “You can’t make any money in this industry,” according to Andrew DeAngelo, a cannabis consultant and former owner of Harborside, one of the state’s first medical cannabis pharmacies. DeAngelo told SFGATE, “Not only is Garcia leaving, but a lot of others are also leaving.
The fact that California is losing is a terrible shame. We are losing out on economic activity and jobs, and other countries profit from it. Garcia Hand Picked, like most celebrity brands, outsourced out the growing and production of its cannabis to affiliated businesses before imprinting Jerry Garcia’s visage on the packaging.
The company stated that they are searching for a new cannabis supply, but they declined to be interviewed for this article and did not provide further information regarding the length of the brand’s California sabbatical. In five additional states, Garcia Hand Picked is still accessible.
“We are pausing in California. Garcia Hand Picked in CA will soon have a new local partner for cultivation, production, sales, and distribution, according to a spokesperson from Holistic Industries, the parent company of the brand, in an email to SFGATE. “We want to ensure CA consumers have the highest quality flower for the long term.
In its first four years of legal sales, California’s cannabis sector has encountered significant financial obstacles. While extensive illegal growers and merchants undercut legal businesses, the state’s complex cannabis legislation and heavy taxes increase costs for legal enterprises. Due to their restricted banking options, small businesses must pay excessive costs for basic banking services and have little to no access to loans.
According to federal law, marijuana businesses must pay an effective federal tax rate of up to 80% because they are unable to deduct the majority of company taxes from their federal taxes. These elements work together to make California a challenging area to operate a legal marijuana business. Even the largest cannabis corporations in the nation are leaving the state, and the majority of tiny legacy cannabis farms are closing.
“This Hurts Them a Lot”
By the time Jerry Garcia’s surviving family members made the decision to launch a marijuana company named after the Grateful Dead frontman, who passed away from a heart attack in 1995, almost a dozen states had legalized marijuana. But the Garcias made the decision to establish their company in California, the state where Jerry was born, led an artistic revolution, and passed away.
In that original launch, the Golden State was widely highlighted. In late 2020, an airstream promoting the new brand crisscrossed the state. It was painted in swirling colorful colors. When the Garcia family was being featured while puffing on a bong in Oakland, Esquire posed the question, “If Jerry Garcia were a kind of cannabis, what would the high feel like?”
The family told Esquire they were going to open a dispensary in San Francisco with a Jerry Garcia-themed cannabis lounge, but that never happened. However, according to Weedmaps, there is currently only one jar of Garcia Hand Picked available in San Francisco, and there is no indication that any more will be brought back to the Bay Area.
DeAngelo, who claimed to have done some early consulting work for Garcia Hand Picked but is no longer associated with the company, claimed that the family’s decision to leave California was likely difficult. They adore California, so making this choice was difficult for them, DeAngelo added. They were raised here from birth. I can assure you that they are suffering greatly from this.
Eli Melrod, the CEO and co-founder of the Soulful dispensary chain, claimed that the company’s decision to leave California was evidence of how difficult it is for even successful cannabis companies to succeed there. California’s cannabis industry is arguably the most competitive in the nation; many brands are vying for shelf space there, Melrod told SFGATE.
“I think for certain people it’s preferable for them to focus on other places because of the margins and difficulties in California.” In Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Oregon, the brand is still available for purchase. It sells various cannabis flowers, pre-rolled joints, and some vibrant marijuana-infused sweets in the form of guitar picks.
Its package displays Jerry Garcia’s face surrounded by psychedelic colors that swirl around him, similar to the famous Milton Glasser poster of Bob Dylan from 1966. Melrod claimed that he often doesn’t carry celebrity labels in his shops because the majority of them produce low-quality goods, but Garcia was an exception.
He claimed they have high-quality marijuana grown by some of the greatest outdoor marijuana farmers in the state, including Moon Made Farms and Sonoma Hills Farms. We begin with suspicion because, as Melrod told SFGATE, “we’ve seen a lot of celebrity brands arise in cannabis that is basically simply a celebrity name on a product that is marked up.”
“We were really impressed with the sourcing strategy used by the Garcia Hand Picked team. They collaborated with numerous outstanding Emerald Triangle legacy farmers. Another indication that consumers may be becoming weary of celebrity-endorsed marijuana brands is the departure of the Garcia brand.
Even rock musicians are starting to notice that it might not be an easy business to get into because there are so many well-known people selling marijuana: David Crosby expressed his desire to launch his own marijuana brand to the Los Angeles Times last year, but noted that “Celebrity brands didn’t turn out to perform nearly as well as anybody thought they were gonna.”
Garcia Hand Picked isn’t even the original Grateful Dead marijuana brand, in fact. In 2019, drummer Mickey Hart introduced his own line of pre-rolled joints under the name Mind your Head, though that line too seems to be on hold.
A brand representative may be contacted for this story even if its website is unavailable. Although Garcia’s Hand Picked and Mind Your Head may return to California, fans of the iconic band will have to make do without any marijuana that has been blessed by the group for the time being.