Jerry Garcia, the legendary frontman of the Grateful Dead, had a brush with the law that resulted in a drug possession charge. In March of 1973, Garcia and the band’s lyricist, Robert Hunter, were pulled over for speeding by New Jersey State Trooper Richard Procahino. However, what should have been a routine traffic stop quickly turned into a nightmare for Garcia when the officer noticed a bag of marijuana in plain sight as Garcia reached for his travel bag to retrieve his driver’s license.
While the officer did not discover the cocaine residue on Garcia, the drug possession charge alone was enough to cause trouble. Although Garcia had previous arrests for drug possession dating back to 1967, his use of hard drugs had escalated by the early ’70s, with cocaine use in 1973 and heroin use in 1975.
Despite his unapologetic stance on drug use, Garcia received only a year of probation for the possession charge. He remained committed to his musical pursuits, as the Grateful Dead continued to tour and record throughout the ’70s and beyond. Nevertheless, former Grateful Dead manager Rock Scully saw firsthand the effects of Garcia’s drug habit, describing how Garcia’s “nods got to be very scary” and how he began to neglect his own well-being.
The Grateful Dead’s 1970 New Orleans bust was immortalized in the band’s classic song “Truckin’,” and Garcia’s drug use remained a constant throughout the band’s career. However, despite his personal struggles, Garcia’s impact on music and culture remains significant to this day.