California's legal weed industry is in such rough shape that Jerry Garcia's cannabis brand is pulling out of the state.
Garcia Hand Picked, the legal cannabis brand run by the Grateful Dead frontman's estate, just announced that it has stopped selling its products in California. The decision is particularly tragic, as the Dead are synonymous with San Francisco's weed-loving counterculture movement. Garcia's legacy is so entrenched in Bay Area culture that the recent discovery of his custom pot pipe made local headlines.
Of course, Garcia himself had nothing to do with the brand that bears his name. Sadly, the iconic pot lover didn't even live to see his home state legalize weed. The business is run by the singer's surviving family, who contracted multistate cannabis operator Holistic Industries to produce pot products emblazoned with his likeness. Garcia's family seems to love weed as much as he did, though, and the brand has garnered better reviews than some other celebrity offerings.
“This was a hard decision for them, they love California,” said cannabis consultant Andrew DeAngelo to SFGATE. “They were born and bred here. This is very painful for them, I guarantee that.”
Insiders believe that Garcia Hand Picked won't be the only company to give up on California. The Golden State actually has the most lucrative adult-use market in the entire US, but excessive taxes, robberies, and fierce competition are making it hard for businesses to turn a profit. Combined state and total pot taxes can exceed 50% in some areas, and the vast majority of towns and counties still ban legal shops. The combination of these two factors has helped the local black market vastly outsell its legal competition.
“Not only is Garcia leaving, a lot of people are leaving,” DeAngelo told SFGATE. “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.”
“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,” said Eli Melrod, CEO and co-founder of Solful dispensary chain, to SFGATE. “I think for some folks the margins and the challenges in California make it better for them to focus on other states.”
But although Garcia Hand Picked is bidding farewell to sunny California, the brand is still readily available in Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Oregon. And the company has not completely abandoned its plans to continue selling weed in its home state, either. A spokesperson for the company told SFGATE that they are only “taking a pause in California,” and “are in the process of choosing a new local partner for cultivation, production, sales and distribution.”