Photos courtesy of Cheech's Private Stash / Jasmine Marin
Cheech Marin has all but gone up in smoke since ruling the 1970s as a cannabis culture icon. Known for chain-smoking countless doobies with his pot partner-in-crime Tommy Chong, it was only a matter of time until the comedy legend also got into the legal weed game.
Earlier this year, Marin rolled out Cheech's Private Stash in partnership with Nevada-based cultivation facility Redwood Cultivation, featuring four strains available for purchase by the gram or eighth at dispensaries. To start, the brand is offering Sour Diesel, Cookie Glue, Do Si Dos, and Platinum OG, which have all been personally approved by the ganja G.O.A.T. himself. Though he isn't the first celebrity to join forces with Redwood (Willie Nelson has a reserve, as well), Marin holds a certain cannabis clout that's unique to himself.
MERRY JANE caught up with Marin over the phone to talk about how he's seen cannabis change over the past few decades, stitching together generations of tokers, and how Cheech's Private Stash earned the tagline, "it's always good."
MERRY JANE: Tell be a little bit about how you decided to partner with Redwood Cultivation and why did the timing seem right now?
Cheech Marin: They are one of the best cultivators in [Nevada]. We always wanted to compound a reliable and a high-quality grower. In our searches we found Redwood. I like everybody that works for them. They seem to have the team spirit.
Your collection is rolling out with four strains, Nitro Cookies, Sour Diesel, Cactido, and Dolato. Tell me about how you narrowed it down to just four and why these ones, specifically.
We've tested a bunch of different strains — you're trying to identify really good strains and really well-grown [versions] of that strain for the customers that we want to get in touch with. Strains are always changing [and] we want to identify those for our customers.
Totally. Which do you think is going to be the most popular and why?
Gee, I don't know. I mean, there's strains coming up new every day so I don't know if there's going to be a vanilla or a chocolate strain of our offerings? Who knows? Maybe the "pistachio" will be the most popular.
Adult-use legalization in California is really exciting to a lot of us. How do you feel like this signifies forward progress in normalizing cannabis use across the nation?
Well, I mean 29 states have some form of medical marijuana, and nine states now have recreational marijuana. I think that's more than half of the country. Sixty percent of the American population thinks that marijuana should be legalized. There's no 60 percent of the country that agrees on anything, so marijuana is pretty significant and [those people] agree that it should be recognized or should be legalized anyways.
Who do you imagine to be the core demographic for Cheech's Private Stash?
I see a lot of Baby Boomers in [the dispensary] because they're dealing with stuff that is wonderful medically; they use cannabis as a wonderful alternative to opioids, of course, and anything else that comes their way that would help their health.
How do you feel about your position as a pot icon being a way to bring together multiple generations of cannabis users towards this collection of products?
We hope that it will be. We sourced a lot of good advice and watched people in this particular field to steer [consumers] towards the good stuff. That's why our byline is, "It will always be good," and we won't let anything out that is not good. I think that's where we stake our position in this whole deal — our strains will always be good.
What would make a strain not good? Is there anything in particular that would give it that qualification?
That the product has anything in it that it should not have in it — mold, insecticides, pesticides. We don't want it to go over anything that's not recommended by the state. We're very cognizant of that fact, so that's why our protocols are very rigid and we won't accept anything that is not first-class.
What are you most excited about with the unveiling of this project?
You know, the availability to everybody. As the twenty-something states come online, we want to get an alternative medicine out there for patients, as well as for recreational users in those states that allow it.
What has been the most looming challenge about getting this whole project underway?
Organization. You would think it's very easy, like, "You just grow a weed and pull it out and then sell it." It doesn't go that way! There's a lot of things that could go wrong, especially in larger grows. So there are agricultural problems more than anything. Plus, the added factor that [the product] has to have a certain THC requirement. We want all those things to be a standard.
Tell me how you've sort of seen cannabis culture change throughout the past decades. Surely, these "designer strains" are different from what you were smoking in the '70s.
I didn't know what I was smoking in the '70s. It was all called "weed." I mean, there's all these strains today that I'd never heard of before. The genetic growers are starting to really spread their wings and develop all kinds of strains that are good for different purposes. And we've never had that before. This will keep growing as the legality of the industry comes into play.
How are you able to use your pop culture clout to help spread important messages about the plant? Not only its availability as a medicine, but also topics related to the War on Drugs and mass incarceration.
Yeah. We're gonna start developing a certain aspect [of our business] to help drug offenders with legal defense funds because it's a ridiculous thing to be charged with a crime for marijuana.
Why is there a continued appeal for celebrity-endorsed cannabis brands and strains? Why should a consumer trust your opinion more than someone else?
Well, because I'm Cheech. If you can't trust Cheech, who can you trust?
For more on Cheech's Private Stash, visit the company's website here
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