There’s an exodus of cannabis out of California, and no, that’s not a reference to a Bob Marley song, though you have to snag Marley Natural while they’re still in the Golden State, Cali friends. Yet another iconic heritage brand, the San Francisco-born one Jerry Garciathe late co-founder and lead singer of The Grateful Dead’s line of Garcia Hand Picked cannabis, says goodbye to the Golden State, SFGate Reports. Note “Fire on the Mountain,” though climate change isn’t the only problem in California.
Whereas for decades, cannabis growers, entrepreneurs, and hobbyists have found a hidden green paradise in the Emerald Triangle of the libertarian (a region in Northern California, including Humboldt County, named for being the largest cannabis-producing area in the United States) or liberal. The counterculture of cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, when California finally legalized, well, red tape and impossibly high barriers to entry left even the most famous names in cannabis unable to make a legal profit in the state.
“We are pausing in California. We want to ensure CA consumers receive the highest quality flowers for the long term, so we are in the process of selecting a new local partner to grow, produce, sell and distribute Garcia Hand Picked in CA,” a spokesperson for Holistic Industries, the brand’s parent company, said in a statement. Email to SFGate.
Previously, Garcia Hand Picked would source their cannabis from longtime farmers in the Emerald Triangle, and Garcia farmers may have once enjoyed it, though now the brand is looking for a new supplier. Working with old growers earned the brand valuable street cred (popular cannabis brands can have a rap for being tacky, and many consumers prefer weed without a celebrity face), but it wasn’t enough. Despite California’s reputation as the cornerstone of the United States for cannabis, to say it’s a tough market is an understatement. Trying to sell cannabis in California is almost an expensive process because of the complex regulations, high taxes, and a slew of problems that come with banks. Due to federal laws, cannabis companies do not have the same access to loans. According to the Marijuana Regulatory and Revenue ActWeed companies pay an effective federal tax rate of up to 80%.
Recently, other popular cannabis brands have had similar problems. according to Celeb StonerIn January, Jay-Z’s Monogram brand was initiated into a restructuring by The Parent Company, and Canada’s Cronos Group was approached with a call to kill off Kristen Bell’s Happy Dance CBD skincare line in order to “reduce operating expenses in the US.” . according to bloombergOnly a few popular cannabis brands have been able to turn a profit. In addition to the giant financial hurdles, as long as cannabis remains a Schedule I substance under federal law, there are enormous marketing hurdles. For example, radio advertising is illegal, even in states where cannabis use is not prohibited. And if popular pre-approved cannabis brands fail with a household name and the cash behind them, consider the barriers to entry for smaller companies, especially those owned by POC and anyone else affected by the War on Drugs.
While they’re out of California, Garcia Hand Picked is still available in five other states. However, next time you smoke in Cali while the Grateful Dead plays in the background, if you’re like many others, you’ll choose the black market, just like Jerry himself smokes. Because as the California cannabis mass extinction event sadly demonstrates, state legalization is not as pipe dream (pun intended) as many of us had hoped.