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HE JUST WANTED TO TURN ON THE WORLD; CHEMIST WHO MADE PUREST LSD IN 60s.

Byline: RACHAEL BLETCHLY Chief Feature Writer

HIPPY yoga fan Nicholas Sand sat naked in the lotus position in front of a roaring farmhouse fire.

It was 1964 and the bright young anthropology student had just taken his first hit of the mind-altering drug LSD.

He closed his eyes and waited for the psychedelic ride to begin.

It was a journey which altered the course of his life and saw millions more "turn on, tune in and drop out".

"My first experience with taking acid changed everything," Sand recalled years later. "I was floating in this immense black. I said 'What am I doing here?' "And suddenly a voice came through my body, and it said 'Your job on this planet is to make psychedelics and turn on the world'."

Three years later Sand was doing just that, making "Orange Sunshine" LSD tablets, the purest on the market, from a lab in the back of an old ice-cream van.

He was a laid-back, loved-up, longhaired prototype of Breaking Bad's Walter White. He fuelled the Summer of Love in 1967 and dreamed of taking the whole world on an acid trip to peace.

CRAZE

And Sand, who died last month at the age of 75, also inspired The Beatles' legendary Sgt Pepper album and the single A Day In the Life.

His drug opened the mind of a young geek called Steve Jobs who said the "profound experience, one of the most important things in my life" inspired him to change the world.

And the Sunshine King also helped Jimi Hendrix set the music world on fire at festivals like Woodstock.

Of course, the mindaltering qualities of LSD - lysergic acid diethylamide - also led to misery, addiction and death for many of the hippie generation.

And now there are new safety fears around the drug as "microdosing" - taking it in small quantities - has become a craze among young professionals.

Users claim - without a shred of scientific evidence - that it boosts creativity, improves their mood and helps with mental health issues.

LSD is currently a Class A controlled drug in the UK, carrying a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a fine for possession, while supply or production can lead to a life sentence.

But the drug played a major part in the cultural revolution that swept Britain and America 50 years ago - and Sand was it's chemical Che Guevara.

He was born in New York, in 1941, the son of a chemist called Clarence Hiskey who worked on the top-secret Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb - until he was caught spying for the Soviet Union.

Hiskey's wife divorced him and gave her son her maiden name.

Sand studied anthropology and sociology at Brooklyn College, graduating in 1966.

But several years before that he began experimenting with drugs, making a hallucinogenic called DMT in the bathtub of his mother's flat and another called INVENTOR mescaline. He even set up a perfume company as a front for his drug trade. Sand became fascinated with Eastern philosophies s and took up yoga - which he would perform naked for the rest of his life.

He became friends with the legendary Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary - seen as the father of psychedelia.

Leary believed that hallucinogenics, used in controlled circumstances, were a powerful psychiatric therapy, and coined the famous counter-culture catchphrase, "turn on, tune in, drop out."

Sands also met Leary's Harvard colleague, Richard Alpert and it was at his farmhouse in upstate New York that Sands first took LSD - which was legal until 1966.

Sand's reputation spread to San Francisco, where others were experimenting with LSD. He joined forces with scientist Tim Scully and together they began producing the purest form of LSD ever to hit the market, Orange Sunshine.

They set up their own lab and aimed to make 750 million doses - enough, they thought, to start "a psychedelic revolution."

Then they teamed up with a band of hippy drug smugglers known as The Brotherhood of Eternal Love to distribute Orange Sunshine across the US, Europe, India and Afghanistan.

Michael Randall, leader of the Brotherhood, said later: "Evangelists have an epiphany at church, we're the same, except we were LSD evangelists. Jesus, that's what he was trying to do. I think we did a better job than Jesus."

The pills were found wherever hippies hung out - at Grateful Dead concerts, in communes, Indian ashrams and Afghan hashish havens.

BEND Sand later claimed it got to US soldiers fighting in Vietnam and he hoped to bend their minds in the direction of brotherly love.

"The goal was simple," Sand told makers of a 2015 documentary. "If we could turn on everyone in the world, then maybe we'd have a new world of peace and love. I was on a crusade.

"The only money I ever wanted was to live comfortably. I did something I feel was really good for millions of people." But drug enforcement agents took a different view. Sand was arrested when his truck failed to stop at a border control in Colorado.

Federal agents found 313,000 doses of LSD and a lab on wheels. In 1974 Sand was sentenced to 15 years in jail. Scully got 20.

But while in prison, Sand smuggled in drugs and got his cellmates high.

His girlfriend would arrive with a mouthful of drugs hidden in a balloon and kiss them over.

"We formed an eight-man psychedelic cell," he recalled.

"Everybody would rather take LSD than just sit in jail. We got the whole prison stoned."

Out on bail during a doomed appeal, Sand went on the run to Canada. He spent the next 20 years continuing his "mission" - growing magic mushrooms and making LSD.

In 1996 the Canadian Mounties got their man - they raided Sand's new lab and returned him to San Francisco and another nine years in jail before his release in 2001.

Partner in crime Scully said of him: "Nick made a commitment to being a lifelong psychedelic outlaw." And last month, after a fatal heart attack at his home in California, that lifelong commitment was finally over.

rachael.bletchly@trinitymirror.com

Nick made a commitment to being a lifelong psychedelic outlaw TIM SCULLY ON DRUG DEALING PAL NICK SAND

CAPTION(S):

ORANGE HAZE Hendrix took LSD

HIGH PRIEST LSD advocate Nick Sand

MADE IN LAB Mind-bending drug in '60s

TURNED ON goers at Woodstock O Festival go Woodsto

PARTNER Tim Scully
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 28, 2017
Words:1069
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