Grateful Dead Drummer Mickey Hart Talks New Chemdog Mini Pre-RollsDavid DownsMay 21, 2019
This month, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart launches a run of mini, pre-rolled joints called Magic Minis, available in California. These aren’t some crass promotional sticks of hay, either. Hart’s Mind Your Head brand Minis are loaded with pungent symbolism— featuring the soaring strain Chemdog from Northern California award-winners, IC Collective.
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Hart’s brand, Mind Your Head, is overdue, given that the three-time Grammy-winning percussionist has drummed for the Dead for 28 years. The Grateful Dead helped to propagate modern cannabis culture as their tours spread the borosilicate glass of Bob Snodgrass, the secret code “420,” and the fabled strain “Chemdog” beginning in 1991.
“Chemdog is a legend, as it were,” said Hart. “At a Grateful Dead concert at Deer Creek, Indiana in ‘91 these guys exchanged seeds—13 of them I believe—in one of our parking lots. And Chemdog was born.”
Chemdog, named after its parking lot buyer, is an ultra-high-THC strain that delivers a signature astringent aroma of fuel, lemon, and pepper.
In 2018, the cannabis and hemp company Left Coast Ventures of Santa Rosa, CA brought the mini product idea to Hart in his home in nearby Occidental. Hart hasn’t met the real Chemdog, but he will soon.
“As a loyal Deadhead, I’m proud to see Chemdog featured in the first product from Mickey Hart,” said Chemdog in the press release for the Minis. “It plays an important role in Grateful Dead history and I think it’s exciting that Mickey is bringing it full circle to fans and cannabis enthusiasts in Mind Your Head.”
The growers at IC Collective are also Chemdog worshippers, breeding offshoots for almost a decade and producing consistent, high-THC, uber-pungent pre-rolls and eighths. IC’s founder— a deadhead—first tried the Chemdog strain in ’93, and later met the man Chemdog.
“We never bought a seed or clone,” Oakland, CA-based IC Collective states. “We sourced the Chem genetics and reversed the Chem 91 to create our own boutique array.”
Hart loves his new stash, he said. “I’ve gotten some free samples, alright,” Hart laughs. “It is as good as they say it is.”
The .3-gram mini-pre-roll is the perfect form factor for him, he said. It’s about one-third the size of a “standard,” one-gram joint. But when the herb is testing at near 30% THC, a mini packs a punch.
“The minis were right on target. These strains are very powerful, as you know. You have to pick your moments with them, and so I don’t smoke a whole doobie normally. The mini just made perfect sense, because I don’t like to light it up again the second time.”
The strain’s uplifting cerebral effects also fit Mickey’s style.
“The Chemdog strain is beautiful. It raises your consciousness. It’s very bright and you’re really aware with it. It’s made for the visionary thing.”
Do Drummers Smoke More Herb?
Hart heads back out on tour with Dead and Company May through July, going across the US. I asked him if—based on his extensive experience—drummers smoke more cannabis that other musicians. He laughs for ten seconds straight.
“That’s a killer,” Hart said. “I’ve never really necessarily noticed that. But who knows? Maybe lead guitarists? Maybe rhythm guitarists, you know? Maybe bass players!”
Given his experience in rock and roll, Hart said he doesn’t see cannabis as a vice. “It’s the opposite of that.”
He calls it a musical tool, especially compared to other substances.
“There are things you can play on and things you can’t. Liquor interferes with your timing and your sensibilities,” he said. “If you’re trying to have a conversation and keep the conversation at the highest level [with the band]—you can’t do that.”
“But cannabis opens up a whole vista of things that you would not normally see or hear or create. It’s very creative and that’s the most important thing. It brings you into the now, and that’s where music and other creative experiences lay.”
Dead and Company’s 2019 tour starts May 31 in the Bay Area. Look for Mickey Hart brand Mind Your Head Magic Minis featuring IC Collective Chemdog in limited edition collectible tins at these fine retailers:
- Berkeley Patients Group, Berkeley, CA
- Airfield Supply Co., San Jose, CA
- SPARC Lower Haight, San Francisco, CA
- Love Shack by SPARC, San Francisco, CA
- SPARC SOMA, San Francisco, CA
- SPARC, Santa Rosa, CA
- SPARC, Sebastopol, CA
- Mercy Wellness, Cotati, CA