Ah, weed, or, cannabis, as professionals call it. Revered for its sweet, skunky aroma and its potent psychoactive effects, the plant has been harvested in some form or another since 2800 B.C. when it was recorded in Emperor Shen Nung's pharmacopeia. (Emperor Shen Nung is also widely credited as the originator of Chinese medicine.)

How We Got Here

Weed as we know it, though, didn't come into being until the 1960s, when folks began not only documenting existing strains but cross-breeding them to create ones with greater levels of THC. You see, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis — it's what gets you high. There is another cannabinoid it shares the stage with, though, and you probably know its name, too: CBD. (There are over 100 more, but these two are most important for the story that follows.)

Both are accessed through decarboxylation, the process of heating cannabis until the compounds activate. The most popular way of doing this is the oldest: smoking it. But you can only legally light up a joint in 19 states, and in the 37 states where medical marijuana is available, many prohibit this method of consumption. (In Pennsylvania, for example, you can only vaporize it, take it orally or apply it topically.)

dad grass
Dad Grass’s pre-rolls come in packs of 5 or 10.
Evan Malachosky

The CBD Boom

The 2018 Farm Bill (a.k.a the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) made CBD a viable consumer good. It could be harvested from hemp, which is the same species as a standard cannabis plant. The only difference between them is that hemp produces less than 0.3 percent THC, the legal limit if you will, because CBD sourced from cannabis plants — which has higher THC levels — can still only be sold in dispensaries. As such, in lieu of legal cannabis, CBD derived from hemp rose in its place.

At first, it was pitched as a cure-all. A snake oil-ish ascent positioned the compound as a miracle worker capable of calming anxious folks, inspiring those in creative fields and luring those disenchanted by alcohol to greener (get it?) pastures. In reality, what CBD can really do remains to be seen. Brands can't make "unsubstantiated claims" or the FDA will come knocking — just ask Curaleaf, which was forced to remove products from its online store after suggesting they could reduce anxiety symptoms, treat Parkinson's and even kill cancer cells.

dad grass
Dad Grass gets its name from times when the brand’s founders would swipe shake from their dads’ weed stashes.
Evan Malachosky

Dad Grass, Reviewed

Dad Grass is similar to many new-age cannabis brands in that it aims to attract potential customers through design. Sure, the stuff inside is good and all — we'll get to that later — but the brand's founders, Ben Starmer and Joshua Katz, are creative and marketing experts. They met at Levi's, where they collectively held two of the top global marketing positions.

Dad Grass Hemp CBD Joints

Dad Grass Whole CBD Hemp Flower

The Big Red Nostalgia Machine

Years later, though, and separated by more than a few job changes, the pair reconnected. In 2020, when Dad Grass launched, they felt confident in the nostalgia machine's ability, which could tap into our memories of sharing joints in friend's cars or puff, puff and passing between classes, to sell us on, well, diet weed.

"For us, it was about the nostalgic memory of finding our dads’ stash and peeling off a little bit," Starmer told Vice in an interview. In this case, and across other categories as well, "dad" is as much an adjective as it is a starting point. There are dad hats, dad sneakers, dad beers, you name. Dads are condensed into regular, routine creatures. Their collective stashes, whether liquor, records or, in this case, weed, are uncomplicated and unchanging. Their favorite beer's only okay, but it's good when cracked together. Their weed, as it naturally was back then, packed less of a punch but proved just right for their rock 'n' roll-fan friends.

dad grass
They smoke a lot, homebodies be warned.
Evan Malachosky

Diet Weed

Now, I know: It isn't fair to reduce Dad Grass down to just diet weed. But I did recall saying upon opening one of Dad Grass's tidy 5-packs, "If Old Pal," another popular cannabis brand, albeit full-proof, "were Coke, Dad Grass would be Coke Zero, right?" Although that may sound like the weirdest "hits blunt" meme fodder of all time, there's a little bit of truth to the statement.

Hemp is a formidable alternative to THC-heavy cannabis flower. It looks, smells and smokes roughly the same, but it doesn't get you high. For some, the act of smoking is the real release. With cigarette smokers, they're surely addicted to nicotine, but there's also a degree of oral stimulation that comes with lifting a lit stick to your lips, pulling and putting it back down. If you worked your way through a 0.7 gram joint, though, the weight of Dad Grass's signature pre-rolls, you'd be pretty damn, especially if you're a reefer rookie, high.

Even if you're a novice, someone capable of understanding terpenes and THC percentages, modern weed can be hard to gauge. It's generally more potent and certain hybrids can have different effects on different people. Hell, even if someone documents the strain they didn't like, worked to find a different one and got high again, they may end up feeling a similar sense of paranoia, which can trigger sweating, nausea and tachycardia (an elevated heart rate).

This is why many folks stop smoking altogether — they have panic attacks, hate how the tachycardia feels or simply get too high and stay that way for far too long. Dad Grass offers a lower-stakes smoke session for fans of cannabis and first-timers alike. Scared to fully send it? Smoke a pre-roll packed with CBD. Worried about wading back into the world of modern weed, where strains have names like Girl Scout Cookies or Black Widow Lemon Pie? Here, have this.

dad grass
They feel like the kinds of pre-rolls you can pick up at dispensaries.
Evan Malachosky

No Fuss, Still Fun (for Some Folks)

Dad Grass's hemp joints (and whole flower hemp) offer CBD in a familiar form — at least for those that have at least hit a bong or joint before. But it isn't just the act that feels familiar. Dad Grass still smells like weed. The joints are clearly professionally rolled and packed pretty generously, but they're still loose enough to stay lit. (Tightly packed joints don't let air pass through them, making them harder to pull smoke from.)

I enjoyed one with ease and without the slow build of a head or body high. I felt relaxed, but I was probably just distracted by the smoking pre-roll before me. There were no unwanted or even surprising effects, and I got up from my chair as easily as I sat in it, albeit with the sweet aroma of smoked weed in tow. Be warned, these do billow quite a bit, a dead giveaway that what's in your hand is not a standard cigarette.

As such, although you can order Dad Grass to any address in the US — they use the USPS — it'd be difficult to explain to the police, who just stopped you for smoking a joint, that it actually has less than 0.3 percent THC in it. (Sure, you could show the package, which has a statement that reads: "THC content is at or below the legal limit of 0.3%.") There's an inherent assumption Dad Grass steers clear of addressing in its marketing: In order to enjoy their joints, you probably need to live in a place that's pretty 420-friendly as is, especially if you're a person of color. According to the ACLU, "Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana." Other reports have questioned whether the rate isn't higher — something more like 8 times.

Fast Facts

Is Dad Grass legal?

Yes — Hemp-derived CBD products were legalized in 2018 with the passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act.

Will Dad Grass make me fail a drug test?

No — Hemp plants are cannabis plants that produce less than 0.3 percent THC. That is not enough to register on any drug test.

Dad Grass vs. Mom Grass

Dad Grass is CBD-forward. Mom Grass, another one of Dad Grass's products, is CBG-forward. CBG is the parent molecule to all other cannabinoids, meaning it's the first one the plant develops. As such, it offers a little of everything, even though it doesn't officially do anything.

Evan Malachosky is Gear Patrol's associate editor.