Jerry Garcia's Pot Biz Is Heading Out of California

Eric Risberg

Someone should tell Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) that maybe he’s gone a bit too far with the taxes and his big ideas for big government. Or, as the Grateful Dead might have said, “Gavin Newsom, you better watch your speed.” Because once you’ve lost the confidence of the bong-hit set, you’re pretty much done in California. Or would that be baked?

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Jerry Garcia was the frontman of the above-mentioned Grateful Dead, a San Francisco native and counter-culture icon. The Grateful Dead and weed are pretty much synonymous. It was a part of the whole Grateful Dead culture, as the song “Weather Report Suite Part II” will testify. After Garcia went to that Great Venue in the Sky in 1995, his family started a weed business in 2020, known as “Garcia Hand Picked.”

But alas, the high times have become hard times in California, not just for the common working man, but for the common ersatz hippie, as well. SF Gate reports that Garcia Hand Picked has decided it is time for truckin’ and announced an exit from the Golden State. This is surely a sign of the coming Calpocalypse.

The magazine talked with cannabis consultant (yes, that’s a thing, at least in California) Andrew DeAngelo. DeAngelo suspects that Garcia Hand Picked is checking out for the same reason many other similar companies are packing up their grow lights, packaging operations — and jobs: there is no money to be made in California. DeAngelo told SF Gate, “Not only is Garcia leaving, a lot of people are leaving. It’s a real shame that California is losing out. We’re losing out on jobs and economic activity and other places are benefiting from that.”

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What a long, strange trip it’s going to be.

Technically, the Garcia brand relies on other growers and packages the weed with its label. While it is shuttering things in California, Garcia Hand Picked can still be purchased in other states. The company is looking for a new local partner for “cultivation, production, and sales in California.” But for the present, it is closing up shop there.

Apparently, the same problems that are hitting everyone else are also clobbering the weed industry, namely complicated regulations and high taxes. Legitimate brands are also being undercut by illegal growers. Those companies also have limited banking access and are charged high fees for most transactions. Additionally, federal laws prevent these companies from taking many deductions, and they may face a tax rate of 80%. And as one would suspect, the pot industry is very competitive in California. Eli Melrod, the CEO and co-founder of Solful dispensary chain commented to SF Gate:

California is probably the most competitive cannabis market in the country, it is a market where there are a lot of brands fighting for shelf space. I think for some folks the margins and the challenges in California make it better for them to focus on other states.

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So much for complaining about “The Man.” You know, all those uptight, white, and to-the-right Republicans that California dislikes so much. As it turns out, many of the things those awful conservatives were griping about don’t just hurt big business. They hurt small businesses, too. Including the pot businesses. And as it also turns out, “The Man” is actually an ambitious, greedy Democrat who goes heavy on the taxes, regulations, and hair gel.

Well, guys, we told you so.

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