The Selected Quirks of Madjag
The Madjag Chronicles were compiled as memoirs and mental snapshots of my experiences during the 1978-1982 guerrilla growing years in Madjag Canyon and beyond. Importing weed from Mexico, lining up connections with the Colombians, and living for months in Jamaica to set up a 1/2 ton Ganja flight were some of my subsequent adventures. In recent years I have been a medical marijuana grower, a pollen chucker, and an Admin/Moderator for several online cannabis forums.
Triple Beam Dream
The late 1960’s and early 1970’s had the juice. What can I say? I was a kid in high school, preparing to go to college to study pre-law. I bought my first weed in 1967 but stashed it away, never smoking the joints. When I finally got up the nerve to try it I found nothing but pure decay and stink in my buried bottle. Fortunately the whole world of drugs and psychedelia lay directly ahead in Colorado, my college destination.
Within 6 months of entering school I had smoked weed, eaten Quaaludes, and had experienced my first acid trip at a Doors concert. Life would never be the same though in my little mind I still thought, maybe only remotely, that I might be able to carry on with the plan I had worked out with my high school counselor: study pre-law while at college, graduate, get my law degree, and then walk right out into the big, bright world to be an attorney. Why? I have no idea other than that was “the plan”. My high school was very competitive academically and when my college counselor asked me, “So what do you want to become, a doctor or a lawyer?” I chose law. Where I grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago, you had to have a plan as you moved ahead in life. I guess everything was supposed to be laid out like you knew what you were doing, eh? But did we really?
“The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad.” – Salvador Dali
Colorado was wild west back then and Boulder was its capitol. You could pretty much count that any weed that crossed the border from the south would make its way to Colorado and into the hands of college kids who were experimenting in novel, new ways. In 1969, my first bag of Panama Red, an easy four-finger baggy, cost only $15 and was mighty potent. Over the next few years various Colombian, Thai, and Mexican strains poured in as well, all respectable, unique, and guaranteed to please. Funny how each type of herb complimented a certain experience according to an individual’s preferences…..for hiking around the mountains maybe you’d choose a joint of Acapulco Gold, for a night of pubs and beer maybe you’d choose your craziest Colombo just to make sure your friends were turned into Zombies by the end of the night, and for sex with your new girlfriend, that beautiful hippie girl who made you hard just thinking about her, some black Temple Ball hash. And all of this was pre-Indica where only a few varieties like Colombian Wacky Weed carried the knockdown torch.
For concerts I remember that I had a definite lean toward Thai stick. It would get us into the sound zone, that psychedelic edge space, where music, visuals, and colorful stage lighting were much trippier. Of course a bit later, once we tripped out for real on Orange Barrel Sunshine or pharmaceutical Sandoz LSD dripped onto a piece of tiny Chiclet gum, these experiences were magnified exponentially in ways one cannot describe in mere words. Weed perhaps you can pretend to quantify; acid, forget about it.
One concert back then stands out as extra special. It was held at Mammoth Gardens in Denver, an ex-skating rink turned concert venue. As I remember it held only 300, maybe 400 people, all on one floor level, with no stadium seating or chairs at all, just a simple stage 4 feet off the ground against the wall. If you stood stage-center you would be no further than 30 feet away from the performers and that’s exactly where we were for the gig. Santana opened and featured music from their newly-released second album, Abraxas. Country Joe of The Fish was both the intermission entertainer and the mc for introducing the main event, which was my favorite: Eric Burdon and War. When an obviously mellow Eric slipped onto the stage the crowd went berserk and tossed joints by the 100’s at his feet. The band was all smiles and once the roar died down a bit, Burdon said, “I’d really love to, but….” and he scooped up a double handful of joints and tossed the weed back into the crowd. The wine spilled for sure that night and how we made it home safely is still a mystery as it often was after a night of endless weed smoking and perhaps a bit of Tequila to boot.
My close college friend George was from Arizona and ultimately introduced me to that state on a five-day whirlwind road trip in ’72 when I visited him in Phoenix a few years after college. I’m not sure what Geo’s college major was however I’m pretty sure he majored in Weed with a minor in Psychedelics. He had the Arizona connection in the palm of his hand and used it like a magic wand wherever he went in Colorado. Old high-school buddies like David or Larry would show up for a visit, always with a fat-ass suitcase. One time in particular I was onsite when he opened one of those big old Samsonites and it was filled from top to bottom with layers and layers of pre-filled baggies, each an ounce, each rolled into a nice little 3-4 finger clear-plastic tube of quality seeded Mexican import. Sinsemilla didn’t show up until a few years later, however the potent, perfumed Thai stick filled that role in the meantime with its sticky, seedless buds nicely attached to that cute little bamboo stick.
George had a doctor’s bag that he carried whenever he was “at work”. He only made it through one year of college before he lost interest and dropped out to follow his new vocation – dealing. Three or four years later, George was busted while doing 88 mph in a 65 zone coming back from Cali to AZ, with that same doctor’s bag full of Black Beauties, LSD, and coke sitting in the front seat of his car right next to him. His dad got him an A-1 attorney and the judge gave Geo a choice of college or jail; he chose school, became an Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeon, and had a similar doctor’s bag for real. Fate sure has many surprises……
I went to visit him in Yuma in order to have a few moles removed from my face and neck. Every time I shaved it seemed that one of them would get nicked and bleed. We went to his office on a Saturday when no one else was there and he had me sit in the patient chair by the big glass cabinet. He pulled out his keys, unlocked the cabinet door, and happily pulled out a bottle of Merck pharmaceutical cocaine. As he opened the bottle and poured out some little, pre-measured spheres of coke he said, “One for you, one for me, two for you, two for me…”. He dropped the spheres into a small cup of pure water, let them dissolve, and snorted the wizard water up his nostrils. Mmmmm-good. I joined him and he announced now we were almost ready for surgery. First he turned on his office stereo and cranked up Little Feet, one of his favorite bands. As I leaned back in the leather examination chair Geo commenced cutting out my moles which bled like a balloon being pierced, blood just pouring out of my face. One mole on my nose was particularly productive and soaked my new western shirt even though I had a protective gown over my chest. Faces sure can bleed and noses do win the Niagara prize for the best flow.
In addition to his black doctor’s bag for carrying weed, hash, coke, Black Beauties, Quaaludes, or Acid, George had a hard plastic container with a handle on top that contained a magical instrument. Not unlike the surgical tools of a true physician this hefty container held an Ohaus Triple Beam scale, the tool of choice for dealers and medicine men everywhere in the early 70’s. One day I would learn to love mine, too, but that day was still a few years off for me. For now it was George’s sidekick, accompanying him to special events that required precision and professional flair. While other scoundrels pulled out their tiny ounce-count postal scale, the type you hang a baggy from while you hold it in the air, George had the big gun. If exact weight, not count, was the concern, he would pull out his 50 gram brass weight in order to calibrate the scale, weigh it, make sure he was accurate within a 1/10 of a gram, and go to work. I still own that weight today.
It was lovely work, too. Imagine you’re 19 and your best friend has everything possible from Pandora’s box available 24/7. It got to be a little much let’s just say, haha, yes, those are the wages of sin. I was also one of his testers who got to try any acid that George was currently offering his clients, Purple Owsley, Orange Barrel Sunshine, blotter acid, and one that I found through another friend that we went wild over, Sandoz pharmaceutical LSD in liquid form that was added one drop at a time over miniature Chiclet gum pieces. The folks dripping those doses from their laboratory eye-droppers obviously were flyin’ on their own supply because some gum pieces had such a big drop that it ran around the Chiclet and almost touched itself on the other side. Those pieces were highly-prized because it was nearly a double dose, but by God, you soon discovered that you probably weren’t meant to have that much. Lots of casualties in those days, teens wandering the streets at 2 in the morning, staring mindlessly at streetlamps for hours or trying to cross the 4-lane highway and couldn’t because it was too difficult to distinguish the cars from the trails they left. One roommate of ours painted the bathroom walls with his shit since it looked so nice and natural, at least at the moment. He was one of those casualties that ended up committing himself into a mental institution. He began hearing radio station transmissions in his head and soon felt compelled to contact the FBI and show them how he cracked the Charlie Manson case, an incident that didn’t really go over so well.
The trusty Triple Beam got a lot of use with Geo putting it to work. Those were the drug heydays and it seemed that everywhere you went there were new and exciting people higher than kites, doing incredible things on amazing drugs. Heroin, coke, and meth didn’t even make the college scene until several years later when Persian Brown or Mexican Black Tar showed up in general public. Those heavies were always around, just not part of the typical hippie lifestyle that I was living. We all knew of the rock stars who preferred that downer Heroin buzz like Neil Young, the Stones, Janice, Jimi, and scores of old blues men, but I was more a witness to the massive tidal wave of mind-altering drugs and plant powers that opened many a heart and mind. Coca came later, speed never, and Chasing the Dragon for one 3-month period of my life.
The trusty Arizona weed connection meant that that scale would stay busy for years, however slowly but surely George’s acid connection morphed from tabs and caps to baggies of powder and the scale was frequently weighing out ounces of acid instead of ounces of fine herb. Wholesalers who were willing to do the work of capping their own capsules in order to make even more profit were lining up, too. Ounces of acid powder soon lead to pounds of acid powder and those elusive pounds eventually lead to the pure liquid itself, sold only in ounces. Dangerous stuff, that…..
“You have no idea who I think I am”
Dr. Munchies in Scottsdale was the hip place to hang out, have a drink, and rub elbows with the rich and infamous. It stayed open later than typical restaurants and bars, actually well past the legal Arizona alcohol serving time of 1 am for last call. The food was excellent and so was the selection of great Tequilas and Single Malt Whiskies. It had real espresso, Italian-style, and fresh French bread daily. The maître d’ was a groovy guy about 35 years old with flowing, full, black hair down to his waist and was dressed in a white and black, full-length tux with tails. He was European judging by his accent and all the ladies in particular (and a few guys I’m sure) loved talking to him for any reason. And he was tan, baby; he must have laid by the pool a lot.
Drug dealers enjoyed dropping in and making it all too apparent that they were in “the business”. This was long before Mexican, Colombian, or other international cartels would hit the nightlife scene in cities across the US except perhaps Miami which was already the northern tip of South America. For Phoenix or Tucson though, real drug importers wouldn’t be showing off like this, only gringo dealers would. It somehow went with the territory to let it go to your head. Maybe it was a version of the high-school jock show-off or perhaps the “I’m-better-than-you” rich kid syndrome. Whatever it was, it was painfully obvious to us weed growing ninjas who kept really low profiles. We were happy to be able to grow our sinsemilla, sell it all to one or two dealers, and live a quiet, peaceful life in a small town in the mountains. No Ferraris, young girlfriends, or gold gangsta strands for us; maybe just a good, used 4×4 for the back roads with a nice Sony Supertuner and decent speakers, and of course a month in Jamaica chilling on the beach in Negril after harvest….…hahaha.
George was something in between the obvious dealers and the invisible growers. Born and raised in Scottsdale, he felt at home anywhere he went in his home turf, be it a dirty dive bar, a topless joint like The Highliter, or the trendy Dr. Munchies. One night we went to Munchies with Geo and met another old-time Phoenix friend of his who had moved to northern California in the early 70’s in order to pioneer the acid lab scene. I finally got to meet the secret source behind George’s LSD mania, Steve. He seemed like a cool numan, laid back with that definite Arizona born-and-bred air about him. A true Space Cowboy I found out later with a mean streak a mile long, too.
Meeting Steve-O was not a big deal to me until I heard what he was up to. Then the wheels in my head started spinning as George explained the LSD pyramid for us and Steve just nodded and glanced around to make sure no one at a nearby table was listening in to our conversation. DEA and Customs agents hung out in easy targets like Dr. Munchies, hoping to work their way into the drug crowd, attend a party or two, and start buying and building a case.
The Acid pyramid production breakdown was this:
- 1 oz. of liquid pharmaceutical LSD + 15 oz. of rice powder = 1 lb. of pure Acid powder (16 ounces of pure Acid powder)
- Each of these pounds of pure Acid powder was again cut with 15 oz. of rice powder to make 16 total pounds. Each pound was then capped into individual street doses. The potency of the dose was determined by the size of the capsule that you used. So was your profit to a degree, but let’s not be greedy when talking about pounds of LSD. It just doesn’t make sense.
I was stunned to realize that 1 oz of liquid acid could potentially make 16 pounds of street Acid. It has been a long time since those days were fresh in my memory, however according to George a pound of the final cut powder would cap out to make somewhere around 2,000 – 3,000 single dose caps. Maybe it was more, I don’t remember. Still, that would be in the ballpark of 30,000 – 50,000 hits of creamy, fresh mind-altering fun…..all from one oz. of liquid LSD.
I hope one of you reading this can correct my figures because I have a feeling that they are too conservative. Somehow the distant memory pops up that it was more in the 100,000s of doses, but please, don’t spare my unsure mathematical memory. If you know, you know. Share it will ‘ya.
Those days slipped by quickly, looking back, and before I knew it I was out in a remote canyon, digging dirt, planting seeds, and hoping for a safe harvest. It took three years of practice to learn my trade well enough that I could have retired after 4 years of guerrilla growing. But I didn’t retire and instead yielded to the siren song of dollars in the form of small plane loads of weed. At least I didn’t fall for the coca dream or get enticed to export firearms for drugs.
I dealt with those days later. That story has yet to be told, but I will, oh yes, I will.