A lot rode on my first taste of Cheech’s Private Stash, a premium cannabis brand fronted by Cheech Marin, the Chicano half of the comedy improv duo that fed my head in my formative years.

By the time “Up In Smoke” dropped on Sept. 15, 1978, portraying and defining cannabis culture in a uniquely multicultural California way, I was 13 years old and totally assimilated in Cheech and Chong, two grenudo marijuanos who looked and talked like my older Mexican-American cousins, my Aunt Frank, her hippie friends Eddie and Benny and various vatos and low-riders in my family’s Tortilla Flats homestead ‘hood near the rail road tracks in Roseville.

Even before I’d first bought and tried pot — a “lid,” the Seventies’ name for an ounce, purchased with money I’d earned delivering the afternoon newspaper — I could recite lines from Cheech and Chong comedy albums word-for-word like kids today spew rappers’ rhymes.

Who ate all the baloney?

Dave’s not here.

Good thing we no step. 

No stems, no seeds that you don’t need.

Acapulco Gold is …

{make toke sound then hold breath through next line}

Bad-ass weed. 

Cheech’s Private Stash arrived with the baggage and burden of smoking your old heroes.

My encounter last year with Tommy Chong’s Chong’s Choice joints was a bummer.

I didn’t have the higest hopes for Cheech’s Private Stash until I saw the high prices of Cheech’s Private Stash eighths in a Sacramento store: up to $65 with tax.

Cheech’s Private Stash had better be some bad-ass weed, que no?

I’ve been waiting  to try Cheech’s Private Stash for more than a year — and, really, most of my life.

I recognized Cheech’s brand instantly.  Cheech’s red beanie. tops the logo.

“Stash” is shaped in a font that evokes Cheech’s Seventies-era bigote mustache.

Forty-five years of cannabis culture, California culture and Chicano culture rode on these glass jar eighths of sativa, indica and hybrid weed.

I first heard of Cheech and Chong in 1973.

Los Cochinos” won a Grammy.

Comedy albums circulated like contraband and hand-me-downs among friends and family in those days.

I knew “Los Cochinos”  well; I was regularly called a little pig by my Spanish-speaking parents.

And in addition to just being funny, the album was fun — interactive with cut-out and slide-outs  revealing  places to stash pot inside a car.

Cheech — short for chicharrones, a favorite childhood snack — was an instant hero, more likable than hard-druggie folkie Jerry Garcia, another Hispanic icon from a hippiefied Chicano youth accented with a head shop on the corner and T-shirts proclaiming Viva La Raza and A Friend with Weed Is a Friend Indeed.

In our celebrity-driven culture, cannabis is not immune from the influence of stars. Snoop Dogg. Willie Nelson. Tommy Chong. Berner.

All musicians. All cannabis icons. All cannabis brands.

When you buy their weed, you’re buying your heroes.

You like their work.

You like them.

You know they know weed.

You trust them.


Brands matter now more than ever in cannabis retailing.

In California, all cannabis must be sold pre-packaged and sealed.

No more deli sales.

No more opening jars for closer looks and deep whiffs.

Without the ability to open jars for visual and olfactory explorations of the pot you’re about to buy, consumers are left to rely on other influences.

I admire Cheech Marin.

After the Seventies, he went on to a real Hollywood movie and television acting career.

His movie comedy “Born in East L.A.” may have parodied a Bruce Springsteen song but is a scary reflection of bias everyone of Mexican heritage suffers. He collects Chicano art.

Cannabis endorsed by name by a guy who’s represented pot in both English and Spanish in my cultural consciousness since I was 8 years old might sway me the next time I’m shopping for mid-range eighths priced $50 and above.

I give Cheech’s Private Stash — product, packaging, price, pleasure and value — a solid B, a nod to one of my all-time favorite Cheech lines: “Mexican-Americans love education so they go to night school / and they take Spanish and get a B.”

If you were a Chicano kid in California in the Seventies, you’ll hella sabes.