Mickey Hart knows a thing or two about cannabis.
An accomplished musicologist and drummer, Hart is best known as a longtime member of the Grateful Dead, which he joined in 1967. Anyone who's been to a Dead show can attest their music pairs exceptionally well with weed - it's no surprise that they're deeply tied to the origin of 420. After the Dead disbanded in 1995 following the death of Jerry Garcia, Hart kept playing music, touring extensively and even winning the first-ever Grammy for Best World Music album for his 1991 record 'Planet Drum'.
Now, in conjunction with Left Coast Cannabis, Hart has launched a new cannabis brand called ‘Mind Your Head'. According to the press release for the new line, it's inspired by the “groundbreaking culture of creativity and community that Hart helped create and continues to foster through his art and his band."
The brand's inaugural release is Magic Minis, 1/3 gram pre-rolled joints sold in tins of ten. They're currently available at select dispensaries in the Bay Area, with plans to expand distribution later this year.
"It just seemed like the right thing to do", Hart responded when I asked how the collaboration came about, citing Left Coast’s “world-class manufacturing” and “high quality”.
(Deadheads take note: The joints contain Chemdawg, a legendary strain discovered at a Dead show in 1991, and renowned for boosting mindfulness and artistry.)
So what role does cannabis play in Mickey Hart’s creative process?
"Cannabis is very important for me personally, because it allows me to go into the zone. it allows me to focus, be in the moment, to play music, to do sonic art or visual art,” Hart told me. "It’s just very creative, and it’s very pleasurable. But you have to pick your moments."
He added, "I might smoke before I play, I might not. My routine is always in flux."
"It’s never an average day."
Speaking of visual art - that’s Hart’s work adorning the tins carrying the Magic Minis. It’s a psychopomp, "a guide of the soul to the other side." Hart explains. "It’s an old mythological figure in Europe and many places, but that’s my version."
Shortly after the launch of Mind Your Head, Hart will be hitting the road with Dead and Company, playing classic Dead tunes alongside fellow Grateful Dead alums Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann, as well as guitarist John Mayer. A new generation of fans is coming out to these stadium shows. “It's been passed down to them by their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who shared this with them,” adding that "it’s amazing how [the Dead] seeped down into the culture and the fabric of America."
He recalls a quote from Jerry Garcia, who compared the band to licorice. "If you really like us you’ll love us. And if you don’t, you won’t. You won’t ever get it."
But whatever your stance on the Dead, Hart is confident that Mind Your Head will be a hit with cannabis consumers everywhere.
"I can't really see into my crystal ball but I think it's going to be a very positive reaction."