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Santana on His ‘Smooth’ Move Into the Cannabis Market

The celebrity cannabis business club has a new member: Carlos Santana. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is partnering with Left Coast Ventures, the same California company that provides flower for Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart’s Mind Your Head brand and Marley Natural.

Asked how the Left Coast partnership came together, Santana, 72, told Variety: “They picked me. I feel like I was picked to come to this planet and participate, from [his long relationships with executives] Bill Graham and Clive Davis to Miles Davis and Jerry Garcia. I came to the right place with the right heart, and things gravitate to me. Left Coast came to me and I’m very honored and humbled to be on the same frequency as Bob Marley and Mickey Hart. I want to promote the frequency of healing though medicinal cannabis.”

Santana’s cannabis brand has yet to be named. Left Coast plans to start releasing flower strains and pre-rolls in the spring and expand the line to hemp-CBD products in the fall. “Carlos has influenced millions through his music and shares our values and passion to legitimize the future of cannabis,” CEO Brett Cummings explained.

Santana’s personal history with marijuana dates back to when he grew up in Tijuana in the early ’60s. “It made me hear Ray Charles and B.B. King differently,” he recalled. “I felt like a little kid discovering Disneyland for the first time, and the rides were incredible!”

His mother would soak dried pot in alcohol and use it. “She put it in a jar with alcohol, let it sit for a while and she’d rub it into her joints for arthritis, rheumatism and her knees, all kinds of things, and it worked,” Santana said. “It’s been handed down by generations and generations for a long, long time.”

Santana started smoking marijuana regularly when he arrived in San Francisco in 1967. Unlike the Dead members, who were hounded by police over their drug use and busted several times, Santana eluded the law until he was arrested for possessing a small amount at the Houston Airport in 1991.

“I had one tiny, little joint that was about the size of a thin toothpick. The guy that arrested me, who was Mexican, said, ‘I’m just doing this because we have zero tolerance.’ I said, ‘You’re only arresting me because you want to get your name in the papers and you want to get a raise or notoriety.’

“Strangely enough, when they put the handcuffs on me and put me in the car, the policeman who was driving broke down and cried. I asked him if he was alright, and he said, ‘Not really, man. This the worst day of my life.’ I said, ‘That’s okay, you need to do what you have to do.’ Then I said, ‘Would you do me a favor and turn on the radio?’ He turned it and first song that came out blasting was ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ by Bob Marley.”

When Santana arrived at the police station, he received the royal treatment. “Everybody looked at me like I was from another planet. They said, ‘What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here. We’re going to put you where no one will bother you. We’re going to process you really quick. Somebody made a mistake. You don’t need to be here!’

“After they released me, I went to play with Grateful Dead in Colorado. Everybody in the Dead looked at me, like, hey, I had just joined the club. I started laughing. The Grateful Dead have always been like that with me. They believed in me before I believed in myself.”

In 2009, Santana called on President Obama to legalize marijuana. Three years later, Colorado and Washington were the first states to end the prohibition of recreational weed. “What I’ve been trying to say from the beginning is, why can’t it be legal like penicillin or water or air?” he asked. “The self-deception is when humans create laboratory drugs to opiate you. They don’t really heal you. You can cure rheumatism and arthritis or all kinds of things with marijuana and alcohol. This had been done before Christopher Columbus came here.”

Now that 11 states have legalized marijauana and 33 allow medical access for patients to cannabis, it’s Santana’s turn to jump into the Green Rush. “There’s medicine in drugs,” he said. “I feel really grateful that we’re reaching a point where people are beginning to wake up to the heavenly powers that we all have.”

As the interview wound to a close the conversation turned to possible strain names for Santana’s new branded pot products.

“Moonflower,” the same of the Santana band’s 1977 album, was suggested.

“Thank you,” he said. “I’ll definitely use that one.”

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