Cannabis was a cultural cornerstone of the counter culture that manifested in the 1960s, and like all cultures, it has an oral history. Until recently, a dark shroud of secrecy hung over all things cannabis, making an accurate taxonomy of the myriad strains and extractions from this formative era nearly impossible.
Some names still managed to gain legendary status through widespread distribution and immortalization in art: flowers like “Acapulco Gold” and hash varieties like “Red Lebanese” still strike a nostalgic chord with many from that time.
Others, like “The One” — a hash oil allegedly produced by pressing large bricks of hashish with industrial presses — are the stuff of urban legends.
A Pirate’s Tale
“North Bay Pyrat” is a longtime denizen of the San Francisco Bay Area with deep connections to both the music and counter culture scenes of California during the state’s first golden age of cannabis.
When I ask him to (roughly) pin down placement of events in time, he always uses a concert or music festival as his compass. That or then-president Nixon’s “paraquat pot” program, which saw U.S. helicopters spraying the herbicide on Mexican cannabis fields in the late 70s — that’s like his BCE/CE point for head history.
He came of age in 1969 via the same route as so many adolescent Baby Boomers during the summer of love — a hit of LSD.
“I was 16 and some of my friends gifted me an 800 microgram LSD capsule they’d put together with Orange Sunshine dust they’d been capping up for sale,” he said. “I took it with me to the opening of the Family Dog on the Great Highway.”
Among the bands playing that night were Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, but Pyrat said his trip was so overwhelming he had to leave before the Dead took the stage. Thankfully, he said that roughly two years later, while he and the cast of a local theater troupe were practicing at that same venue, he was treated to several private jam sessions from the psychedelic rock legends.
“We got to watch them rehearsing up close and personal for a couple weeks,” he said. “That was around the summer of 71′, which is right about the time ‘The One’ showed up on the scene.”
It’s been over 40 years since Pyrat last smoked “The One,” but he still talks about it with a hushed reverence that borders on religious.
“It was some good shit, man. They called it ‘The One,’ not just because it was made from Red Lebanese hash oil [a highly prized variety at the time], but because it only took one hit to get you stoned for like a f*cking day,” he said. “It was a very clear, red liquid (and) it was so clean — looking at it was amazing, it was almost translucent.”
The One was so strong that it inspired Pyrat and his crew to perform an early version of “twaxing,” only instead of using cannabis joints as the vehicle for the oil, they rolled cigarettes from dried mint leaves and coated them lightly with the potent oil.
“We used to take a regular gumless paper of some kind and take a tiny drop of this stuff and spread it a thin as we could on the paper and roll up a joint of mint leaf,” he said. It was definitely a liquid, cause you had to use like a needle and get a drop on the tip to spread it, and then you could smoke it and be just f*cking ripped.”
Pyrat said his friend’s go-to dealer just had it one day, and that it was gone just as suddenly.
“It just appeared one day, my buddy Bob had picked it up. It was $30 a gram, which was a lot back then, and it came in a little one-gram vial with a cap, which was very unusual at the time,” he said. “One day his dealer told him ‘here, I got some neat stuff,’ and just like it floated in, it definitely just went away one day.”
Ancestor of Hash Rosin?
But perhaps the most interesting thing about The One is why it went away.
Pyrat said it had to do with the unique process supposedly used to produce The One.
The CIA found the oil presses and stole them all — these were five ton hydraulic presses that were used to press the oil out of bricks of red Lebanese hash,” he said. “The CIA located all of those presses, cause apparently they were fairly unique items and were easy enough to trace, and they stole them back from the drug manufactures and that ended it.”
Cannabis Now reached out to the CIA for confirmation, but at press time they had not responded to our inquiry.
TELL US, Were you around California during the early 1970s? Do you remember The One?