Flashback Friday: Psychedelic Pioneers—Who Turned On Whom? (1977)

From Dr. Albert Hofmann to you—how Western civilization got psychedelic again, one head at a time.
Flashback Friday: Psychedelic Pioneers—Who Turned On Whom? (1977)
High Times/ Carole Vaucher

From the October, 1977 issue of High Times comes Peter Stafford’s and Bruce Eisner’s survey of psychedelic drug pioneers.

LSD creates in its takers a sort of instant messianism, an urge to turn on friends, relatives, acquaintances and perfect strangers. Marijuana, too, is a sort of friendship ambassador from the vegetable kingdom, telling us to declare peace on the world. And during the Forties and Fifties, as acid and grass slowly spread from among an enlightened few to the electrified many, the genealogy of turn-ons began to read like a Who’s Who in the scientific, political and cultural worlds. There were artists and writers like Aldous Huxley, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Salvador Dali and R. Crumb; actors like Robert Mitchum, James Coburn, Cary Grant, Peter Fonda and David Carradine; scientists like Stanislav Grof, John Lilly, Claudio Naranjo and Albert Hofmann; media moguls Walt Disney and Henry Luce; top political figures John and Robert Kennedy. All took the magical mystery tour and returned to pick up their friends.

It started during World War II. The scene was the New Products Laboratory of Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, in a building now dwarfed by the massive Sandoz tower that dominates the skyline.

On April 16, 1943, the chemist Albert Hofmann, who had concocted a new molecule five years earlier while searching for a uterine constrictor, decided to test it again on birds, who had previously displayed no reaction. By accident, Hofmann absorbed a minute quantity of the chemical through his skin. The agent involved, LSD-25, turned out to be such a potent psychedelic that it had to be weighed out in millionths of a gram. If the substance can be seen with the naked eye, it is a very large dose. By comparison, mescaline must be taken in amounts of 3,000 to 4,000 times the weight to produce a turn-on of a similar scope.

Hofmann’s second trip, on April 19 of that year, confirmed that LSD-25 had been the precipitating psychoactive agent three days earlier. Though dramatic, the trip was hardly the first time that psychedelics had influenced civilization’s collective psyche.

Marijuana use, of course, extends back into prehistory. It was heartily recommended in the earliest book of Chinese herbal medicine, which had influenced much of the East by the time of our earliest documentations, and, as tradition has it, was carried to the West by Hasan-i-Sabbah (“the Old Man of the Mountain”) in about 1090 A.D. Its earliest use as a recreational drug coincided with its introduction into Western medicine—since Joseph Moreau de Tours, who acquired it in Algeria and saw its medical possibilities, also brought it to the attention of the poet Théophile Gautier.

Gautier was something of a dandy in France in the 1840s, and he founded Le Club des Haschischins. Members were administered cannabis indica in the form of a potent greenish jam, and many published extravagant praises of their vision-filled trips. (De Tours first noticed he was affected when he discovered himself fencing with a banana.) Recreational usage in the United States, however, didn’t really catch on until the Twenties, when Mexican laborers and blacks brought it up along the Mississippi from Louisiana and into Harlem and other parts of the country.

The prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. spurred pot’s further spread. But for the most part, it remained an activity of the lower-class black and Chicano subcultures, jazz musicians, Bohemian artists and other assorted members of the creative professions. Meanwhile, an anti-marijuana scare campaign carried on by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics effectively stemmed the pot tide. Weed perforce remained an underground sacrament until the beatniks began lo turn on. Pot became as essential to the Beat movement as poetry, Zen Buddhism, espresso coffeehouses and pounding on a bongo.

When it comes to explaining how the Beats caused us to see beyond what Allen Ginsberg called “the clouds of literal consciousness” that shrouded the Fifties, we must again note that many of those most centrally involved—such as Jack Kerouac—themselves “turned on” relatively infrequently. Oh, it is true that Jack smoked a lot of pot, particularly while writing Dr. Sax down in Mexico (much to the annoyance of William Burroughs, who objected that it excessively smoked up the room). But Kerouac and John Clellon Holmes, perhaps the major publicists of this “go” generation of the late Forties and Fifties, personally tried little of the major psychedelics.

When it came to dope, Kerouac and Holmes were largely outsiders with their noses pressed against the window, recording the activities of Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Lew Welch, Gary Snyder and Herbert Huncke. These were people who gulped down psychedelics whenever given the chance. Snyder, for example, became the hero of Kerouac’s Dharma Bums after seeing the value of psychedelics while a student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. This group’s experiences of fairly continual dope use, as recorded, were to entice an entire upcoming generation.

The Psychedelic Start

But we are getting ahead of our story. After he made his initial studies of the properties of lysergic acid in 1943, Hofmann turned on Werner Stoll, his lab collaborator’s son, and Stoll turned on his patients—16 schizophrenics and 20 “normals.” The results of this experiment were reported in 1947 in the Swiss Journal of Neurology. From here on, this psychedelic message quickly spread.

The decade following Stoll’s initial report saw LSD enter the heads of psychiatric patients, volunteers and, of course, psychotherapists. In 1949 the molecule came to America via psychologist Max Rinkle. A few years later in Canada, a group of psychologists and related workers headed by Drs. Humphry Osmond and Abram Hoffer began giving it to alcoholics in the hopes of sobering them through artificial d.t.’s. Instead, many saw the light, and psychedelic was born as a word and perhaps a philosophical concept as well.

Most of the early work with LSD was done with small doses—often only 30 to 50 micrograms and rarely over 100. Hofmann’s opinion is that 250 micrograms is about the maximum dosage, and he felt his initial experience on that amount was an overdose. Large, single-shot doses were first suggested by Al Hubbard, a former Canadian uranium salesman, considered a “wild man” by his associates in alcoholic therapy.

In the late Fifties in Los Angeles, a number of psychologists began to administer LSD to patients for therapeutic purposes. Via this process they managed to turn on such popular figures as TV comedian Steve Allen, the first to announce his turn-on on television. Cary Grant credited LSD with enabling him to become a parent for the first time. One fascinating record from this period is My Self and I, by Constance Newland, the Thelma Moss of recent Kirlian and psychotronic fame. By about 1957, according to the writer Chester Anderson, a substantial LSD leak led from the Sandoz plant in Hanover, New Jersey, to Manhattan’s East Village.

Peyote, pot and eventually LSD were the main condiments used by the Beats to turn on—and they were also among the most active proselytizers. But word passed quickly of other possibilities for mind expansion. Alan Watts described this type of experience as “instant satori” in his 1959 book This Is It. Ginsberg and Burroughs soon were bringing back additional tales relating to the yage intoxication of South America. Though there was much about their reports and those of others indicating unpleasant effects, a search for mind alteration was clearly part of the ethos, and many were turned on in the process.

The Chilean psychologist Claudio Naranjo acquired yage after deciding he wanted to go into country where “people ate people.” He says he knew he couldn’t learn the languages he would encounter, so he brought along a Polaroid camera and some acid, which he dropped onto drawings he had made of stars, moons and the sun. He would tell the natives that he was a medicine man and that they should meditate upon the heavenly bodies after swallowing the “medicine” appearing on the drawings. Then he paddled away in his canoe as quickly as possible, not knowing what the effects would be. Later, however, the natives indicated they were impressed and grateful—and gave him lots of yage. Naranjo was the first to try MDA after its discoverer, Gordon Alles, and he also gave the first scientific report on ibogaine, after hearing accounts by African natives of their rituals and experiences.

Then in May of 1957, Wall Street banker R. Gordon Wasson published his account of being one of the first two white men to be “bemushroomed.” Life magazine gave Wasson’s story a full-color spread as part three of a “Great Adventures” series. This was to lead to Albert Hofmann’s synthesis of psilocybin and psilocin, the primary active substances in the Mexican psychedelic fungi. Hundreds would travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, in search of magic mushrooms and/or Maria Sabina, the curandera who had conducted Wasson on his remarkable nighttime journey. Bud Schulberg, author of What Makes Sammy Run? was one of these seekers, as was Jeremy Sandford, who wrote In Search of the Magic Mushroom. By the late Fifties, Sandoz was sending samples of these synthetics out to investigators. One of them was Sabina, who reported that “the spirit of the mushroom is in the pill.”

A significant event of the early Sixties occurred when a seeker named Timothy Leary tripped out poolside in Cuernavaca, near Mexico City. His rational, symbolic mind took a vacation, and he resolved to dedicate the rest of his life to studying this new instrument. Having just been appointed to a lectureship in psychology at Harvard, Leary took it upon himself to initiate research into this with his graduate students. Thus was born the Harvard Psilocybin Project—which rapidly turned on hundreds of creative individuals, religious figures, convicts, psychologists and graduate students. Leary also turned Allen Ginsberg on to psilocybin, whereupon Ginsberg immediately tried to phone Jack Kennedy, Kerouac and Nikita Khrushchev (his three favorite Ks) to tell them about it.

In 1960, Dr. John Beresford wrote Sandoz from New York and explained that he was interested in investigating LSD-25’s possible effects on amoebas. Back by return mail came a gram labeled “pharmaceutically pure” and a bill for $285. Before the year was out, Beresford, Jean Houston and Michael Corner had established an LSD research center, the Agora Scientific Trust. Much of the turning on they performed is described in The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience.

Eventually the gram Beresford bought was split up with an associate, Michael Hollingshead, who conveyed part of it to Harvard, where he turned on dozens of scientists and volunteers. He stayed for a while with Leary at a house that was the site of many psilocybin turn-ons. Despite this, many were afraid of LSD. One of those declaring himself most uninterested was Timothy L. By 1962, jazz musician Maynard Ferguson and his wife Flo were obviously having such a good time on it that Hollingshead finally was able to convince Leary to try a spoonful from his LSD-25 mayonnaise jar.

In addition to Leary, Hollingshead turned on Paul Krassner, Richard Alpert, Art Kleps, Ralph Metzner, Donovan Leitch, Keith Richards, the Yardbirds and others of the early English rock scene, from a center he established in London (having been sent there for that purpose by Leary). Though Leary claims to have turned on very few people personally, he and some 30 graduate students, young professors and theologians were, in his words:

“…thinking far-out history thoughts at Harvard… believing it was a time (after the shallow, nostalgic Fifties) for far-out visions…. With… scientific concepts as suggestive text and with LSD as instrumental sacrament and with prayers for grace, we began to write and to talk publicly about the possibility of a new philosophy, a new individual scientific theology.”

Soon Harvard Square became the center of the “psychedelic revolution,” with consequences well known. After being forced out of Harvard, Leary, Alpert (now Baba Ram Dass) and their associates decided it was time for the psychedelic movement to go public and established their International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF). In 1964 IFIF even opened a pilot LSD-training center in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and the following summer offered a week at this resort for $200. They received over 1,500 applications.

Acid has appeared in many forms, but one of the strangest was one that Alpert went down to retrieve after he and Leary had been thrown out of their resort hotel in Zihuatanejo. To bring it through Customs, Alpert put it in a shaving lotion bottle. At the airport, his luggage was thrown up on the rack and fell off. He thought that the bottle might have broken, but didn’t dare check until speeding from the airport in a taxi. Sure enough, the suit the LSD had been wrapped in was all wet. One idea was to cut the suit up into squares like fabric samples: instead, it was just hung on the wall, where anyone who wanted to turn on could suck on it. (A seersucker suit, as it were.)

After Zihuatanejo, this hearty band of experimenters set out for the British West Indies seeking island sanctuary. Discouraged, they returned to the U.S., and at the invitation of Peggy and William Hitchcock—heirs to the Mellon banking fortune—established a longer-lasting psychedelic vortex in Millbrook, New York. From here emanated the Psychedelic Review, early light shows carried to New York City and other messages transmitted via pilgrims who had made the trek to visit the Castalia Foundation and the League for Spiritual Discovery, the slightly altered names for IFIF. The high visibility of such activities dismayed more conservative investigators, but nonetheless drew much media attention leading to the mass turn-ons of the mid-Sixties.

In the spring of 1963, according to Beresford, Bobby Kennedy was known to be taking LSD or psilocybin and providing psychedelic entertainment for foreign dignitaries in a fashionable New York apartment. JFK reportedly smoked pot in the White House with Judith Campbell Exner. By this time, Eric Loeb ran a store with window displays on East Ninth Street in Manhattan, where he legally sold peyote buds from Arizona, mescaline, harmaline and ibogaine. And the Englishman Gerald Heard had by now turned on the publisher of Time and Life, Henry Luce, and his wife, the vivacious playwright Clare Booth Luce.

Even more public and outrageous than the psychedelic circuses and celebrations of the Leary clique and upper-class New York society were the antics of Ken Kesey. Kesey, oddly enough, was turned on by the U.S. Army, which along with the CIA had been conducting its own turn-ons from the early Fifties onward. Of course, these turn-ons were given many times without preparation—yet many, such as Kesey, had good trips despite the lack of structure, and this may have inspired Kesey’s Merry Pranksters to create their Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the namesake of a Tom Wolfe book. The test turned on many who had little advance knowledge, from the Fillmore ballroom to a Watts church. Wavy Gravy, former nightclub comedian Hugh Romney and one of the Pranksters, denies that he put the acid in the punch on these occasions.

Jerry Garcia could be considered another Army turn-on. The lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead, a notorious peyote-gulper in his early Berkeley coffeehouse days, Garcia recounts what caused him to gain the moniker “Captain Trips”:

“[In] ’60, ’61, ’62, I guess, or ’63, the government was running a series of drug tests over at Stanford, and Hunter [the Dead’s lyricist] was one of the participants of these. They gave him mescaline and psilocybin and LSD and a whole bunch of others and put him in a little white room and watched him. And there were other people on the scene who were into that. Kesey. And as soon as these people had had those drugs they were immediately trying to get them, trying to find some way to cop ’em or anything, but there was no illicit drug market then like there is now.

The acid tests beginning in mid-decade were something entirely new. Instead of the turn-on being spread from friend to friend, communal conversions were now the order of the day and a new term was introduced into the language—“freaking freely.” The first real “gathering of the tribes” occurred on October 16, 1966, the day when California became the first state to ban LSD. This was the earliest of what might properly be called the “Human Be-Ins,” and was celebrated by thousands on both coasts. A wave of media publicity about the gentleness of this mass turn-on resulted in an even larger gathering in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in January 1967. An estimated 10,000 turned on while listening to Leary, Ginsberg, Lenore Kandel, Michael McClure and many others praise the psychedelic revolution, accompanied by rock bands from San Francisco such as Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane. Augustus Owsley Stanley III, already known by his middle name as a great acid maker, dropped by parachute into the crowd. Longhairs sporting flowers blew surrealistic bubbles in the grass. By the time the beautiful, vibrant day was over, everyone knew that San Francisco would soon celebrate a “Summer of Love.”

The likes of Janis Joplin, Steve Miller, Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Country Joe McDonald and others formed a loose-knit “family” of turned-on rock stars on the West Coast. Chester Anderson has referred to such groups as Sturgeonesque “homo-gestalts” in Crawdaddy, the earliest rock magazine. Anderson partially explained why these San Francisco musicians and other acid-rockers such as the Stones, the Beatles, the Mothers and the Doors, not to mention hundreds of other bands of similar odd fellows, were such an encouragement to the turn-on:

“Rock is a legitimate avant-garde art form, with deep roots in the music of the past (especially the baroque and before), great vitality and vast potential for growth and development, adaptation, experiment, et cetera. Its effects on the younger generation, especially those effects most deplored by type-heads, have all been essentially good and healthy so far.”

With rock’s heavy profit orientation today, these principles may sound a bit high-flown, optimistic and idealistic. Yet in the mid-Sixties, millions thought of the Beatles almost as gods (or at least as the four evangelists), and for months after Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band became available, people argued endlessly about the secret meaning of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

LSD-25 made its debut in rock in 1962 in a single by the Gamblers. By 1965, Eric Burden and the Animals were crooning their love song, “To Sandoz”: the Stones were singing about how “Something Happened To Me Yesterday”; the Byrds were harmonizing about how they were “Eight Miles High” and the Beatles had long been advising everyone to “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. This is not dying…”

Ginsberg says he was turned on to pot by Al Aronowitz, a pop-rock writer for the New York Post who also performed the same service for Bob Dylan. Ginsberg mentions that the Beatles were turned on by Dylan when their planes once crossed at JFK airport. He asked whether they wanted to turn on, and they were hesitant. Finally, Ringo said he’d try it. They went behind a hangar, and after returning to the others, Ringo was asked what he thought of it. He was smiling so much, the others decided to try it too.

In retrospect, it may seem a strange quirk that the Beatles were turned on to acid by their dentist—the “Dr. Robert” of an early song—who over dinner slipped it into Paul’s and John’s coffees. “He didn’t know what it was,” one explained later. “We didn’t ask for it, but later we did say ‘thank you.’” Jimi Hendrix was another first turned on in England. He responded by putting “Purple Haze” at the top of the charts. In Film About Hendrix, we see his acid taster, who followed Jimi wherever he went and checked out his tabs to see how good they were before he tried them. According to many stories, Owsley made a double-strength, special batch of acid for him, and Jimi once ate a handful of these tabs before going on stage.

We haven’t said anything about the role played by the Fugs, Steppenwolf, Pearls Before Swine, H. P. Lovecraft, Peter Walker, the Seeds, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Arthur Brown, the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Beach Boys, but these and hundreds of other groups all contributed enormously to the turning-on of the world.

Grace Slick likes to tell the story of how she and Abbie Hoffman were invited to a party for Tricia Nixon which Richard Nixon attended. They planned to dose Tricky Dick with some of Owsley’s best, contained beneath her fingernail, before they were stopped at the door by security.

Hoffman relates his version of becoming another of the Army’s turn-ons:

Aldous Huxley had told me about LSD back in 1957. And I tried to get it in 1959. I stood in line at a clinic in San Francisco, after Herb Caen had run an announcement in his column in the Chronicle that if anybody wanted to take a new experimental drug called LSD-25, he would be paid $150 for his effort. Jesus, that emptied Berkeley! I got up about six in the morning, but I was about 1,500 in line so… I didn’t get it until 1965. The acid was supplied by the United States Army. My roommate from college was an Army psychologist…”

By the last half of the Sixties, the psychedelic message was appearing almost everywhere, even if the lettering was somewhat difficult to read. The first Psychedelic Shop debuted in San Francisco, along with the Oracle, a newspaper that centered on psychedelics, showed up irregularly and ushered in for a short while the use of a split-font color technique that produced almost Day-Glo graphics. Both were quickly imitated by other shops and newspapers sprouting up to speak to new psychedelic consumers.

In Manhattan there was the East Village Other, started by Walter Bowart, now publisher of Omen Press, and John Wilcock, a British journalist. Yarrowstalks came from Philadelphia, the Great Speckled Bird from Atlanta, the Astral Projection from New Mexico, the Kaleidoscope from Milwaukee, the Seed from Chicago, the Georgia Straight from Vancouver. British Columbia, and the Nola Express from New Orleans, to name only a few. In L.A., the psychedelic message was conveyed by the Free Press, started by Art Kunkin at Pandora’s Box on the Sunset Strip. Los Angeles also had its own Oracle, trying to reach the standards already set in San Francisco. Beyond this, a variety of “Communication Company” memos were issued sporadically in New York by Jimmy Fouratt and in San Francisco by Chester Anderson, the author of The Butterfly Kid.

All of these updating communiques were members of the rapidly growing Underground Press Syndicate (UPS). They freely allowed the reprinting of psychedelic-encouraging material, such as this widely-quoted statement from Ginsberg:

“Abruptly then, I will make a first proposal—on one level symbolic, but to be taken as literally as possible, it may shock some and delight others—that everybody who hears my voice, directly or indirectly, try the chemical LSD at least once, every man, woman and child American in good health over the age of 14—that, if necessary, we have a mass emotional nervous breakdown in these states once and for all, that we see bankers laughing in their revolving doors with strange staring eyes… I propose, then, that everybody including the president and his and our vast hordes of generals, executives, judges and legislators of these states go to nature, find a kindly teacher or Indian peyote chief or guru guide and assay their consciousness with LSD…”

The surprising thing in the situation at this time was that so few, in the wider perspective, were very curious. A dean at Columbia spoke of this once when he suggested at a faculty meeting that the university not graduate any senior who hadn’t at least smoked some grass. Students who hadn’t toked up by the late Sixties, he said, showed such little interest in the real world that they could never be a credit to the institution.

Hollywood also was on the psychedelic bandwagon, using the turn-on as a central theme in wide-screen technicolor production. Peter Fonda was featured in The Trip, a Hollywood version of the psychedelic experience. It was reported at the time that Fonda would smoke grass on the patio of his Hollywood Hills home while police helicopters buzzed by periodically. The namesake for I Love You, Alice B. Toklas was Gertrude Stein’s author-lover, who had a notorious recipe for hash brownies. We can only speculate whether the film’s star, Peter Sellers, partook. But Lew Gottlieb, the psychedelic guru in the movie, definitely did. Gottlieb started Morning Star, a communal farm in Sonoma County, California, and he was also one of the Limeliters. Other psychedelic films included The President’s Analyst, starring a dapper and possibly turned-on James Coburn: and that tour de force of psychedelic animation, Yellow Submarine, which blended turn-on movement with the Beatles’ music.

By the time the Beatles had gotten themselves decked out in Sgt. Pepper costumes, however, the country was also being turned on by a new kind of film, which Gene Youngblood would call the “expanded cinema.” This genre was typified by Jordan Belson’s Re-Entry, Samadhi and Momentum. Other filmmakers, including Jean Mayo and Francis Lee, tried to convey an impression of their own psychedelic experiences.

Psychedelic cinema was being projected on the walls and screens of light-show emporiums such as The Electric Circus in New York’s Lower East Side, the Avalon, Fillmore and Family Dog in San Francisco, the Kaleidoscope and Shrine Auditorium in L.A. and in dozens of rock venues across the land. The ultimate rock-acid rush was Woodstock and the hundreds of festivals it begat.

Until 1960, according to Hofmann, the world supplies of ergot, the necessary precursor to the manufacture of LSD-25, were extremely limited. Peyote was available, but not to any great extent. Yage, DMT, psilocybin, MDA, STP, MMDA and ibogaine were all but unknown. But then, as Humphry Osmond put it, somebody discovered how ergot could be grown in churns. Now the ball really had begun to roll.

The discovery of how to mass cultivate ergot on Claviceps paspali was made in the Farmitalia labs in Milan, Italy. Before long, Farmitalia was offering LSD-25 at $10,000 a kilo, enough for eight million 250-microgram experiences. Then Spofa Pharmaceuticals in Czechoslovakia began manufacture, providing a high-quality product which became available to anyone in Prague who wished to try the experience under medical supervision. Communist party leader Alexander Dubcek and most of the city’s artistic community took advantage of the offer, which many claim led to the “Prague Spring” of 1968 that ended in a Soviet invasion. Spofa, however, continued to supply the drug until just very recently.

In the early Sixties, nearly all the LSD ingested came from these pharmaceutical sources. When Sandoz recalled LSD after the heavy scare campaign of 1966, most users became dependent upon underground supply. This had remained fairly amateurish and small until the advent of Augustus Owsley Stanley III, grandson of a Kentucky senator.

Owsley came to the making of acid in 1961 after collaborating with one of the earliest manufacturers. Soon he was in business for himself in a makeshift laboratory behind a vacant store in Berkeley, California. His acid varied from early white capsules to what became known as “Owsley tabs,” blue at first, but later—when cheap imitations hit the market—in other colors. Some were stamped with the figure of Batman or Robin, bearing such names as “Midnight Hour,” “White Lightning” or “Monterey Purple.”

Owsley got into the game due to his inability to procure pharmaceutical LSD-25, and within five years it had made him a millionaire. But he was put out of business following his bust in December 1967 at his Orinda tabbing center. His apprentice, Tim Scully, carried on in association with Nicholas Sand, prolific Brooklyn alchemist. Together they put out most of the fabled “Sunshine” acid.

Sunshine was the second acid to gain a large distribution—world-wide, as a matter of fact. The main source of these orange, crumbly tablets was Laguna Beach, a beautiful art colony on the coast of California. A “clean” scene developed there in the mid-Sixties, with many taking Sandoz on the picturesque sands. Here was where Timothy Leary stayed after touring communes of the southwestern United States, the sites of many religious turn-ons.

By 1969, five years after this town’s first head shop was established, large amounts of Sunshine began to be pumped to an acid-hungry population by a group called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love. Actually, the Brotherhood had started several years earlier as a religious group. But as dealing became big business, new faces emerged. Brotherhood members made large fortunes from the import of Afghanistan hash, selling it from a center on a small street called Woodland Drive. The Brotherhood house burned down after a hookah filled with the best “primo” tipped over. Brotherhood members and Afghani royalty escaped the flames.

In the Sunshine field, Nick Sand and Timothy Scully were the original suppliers, claiming to have produced the “improved” acid homologue ALD-52. By the turn of the decade, some 35 million doses of LSD—brown from oxidation and decomposition—had come via the European lab of Ronald Stark, presently a fugitive. The largest amount of this appeared on the West Coast late in 1970 (hence the designation “Christmas acid”). Leary, at this point, remarked, “The challenge to the dealer is not only must his product be pure and spiritual but he himself must reflect the human light he represents. Therefore, never buy dope, never purchase sacrament from a person that hasn’t got the qualities that you aspire for.”

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