One of the surprising, and quite possibly the most fantastic, consequences of the recent Cannabis legalization in Colorado is the appearance of secret stashes of highly sought after Cannabis seeds. Many of these seeds contain old world genetics that have long been thought to be dead and gone, thanks to (now obvious fruitless) governmental efforts to eradicate them. It appears to be the case that quite a few individuals have been secretly saving these seeds for the day when they could be free once again. That day is here, and there are some amazing stories being shared about these seeds and their histories. The following account is one of them and gives us insight into one of the western slope’s most notorious breeds…
ln a small agricultural community not far from you or me a legend was born. Like many legends it has humble beginnings, powerful enchantment & opportune occurrences. The Paonia Purple Paralyzer (P.P.P.) is said to have been so potent that it would “paralyze one for hours” according to one 1970‘s partaker of the original strain. It is also said to have been a deep purple color due to the fall evening chill in Paonia’s North Fork Valley, hence the name. But did this abundant crop grown in the ‘70s & ‘80s originate there too? A closer look into its roots from the pioneer growers reveals the real story.
Journeying back to a time when America was in civil & inter-national unrest in the late l960’s, reveals a catalytic time for many free-thinking adults. In this divided time, some young people opted for an awakening within themselves & the world. Many of our young men left to fight in the Vietnam War, while others ventured across the seas to expand global awareness. During this time in the North Fork Valley, fruit farmers & ranchers were cultivating this land in rural farming areas such as Paonia, Crawford & Hotchkiss. Shortly after the war, an insurgence of like-hearted people from all over the country came to the plentiful valley to sow seeds of their own. For these folks, hashish and other hallucinogens were the major drugs of choice. So, from far across the world, Tibetan Temple Ball Hashish &. Nepalese String hashish from the Afghani lndica Plant were carefully imported to our region. This hash originally came from a connection who was supplying “black gummy hash” to the U.S. Although illegal in Nepal now, hashish was legal until the late l970s. Bill, a CO resident and consumer of the Temple Ball Hash says, “When I was in Nepal in the I970s, there were these balls of hash the size of baseballs that the Sadhu would bring around. l tried smoking a tiny bit of one once & my body was so paralyzed that I couldn‘t move for hours.“
Encyclopedia Britannica deﬁnes the Sadhu as a “religious ascetic or holy person” Many of the highly spiritual Sadhus live in temples and practice an art form of extracting hash from the buds of the female Afghani lndica plant. They rub the crystalline buds in a heavy muslin sheath sometimes pulling seeds along with it. Then the cloth is scraped and hand rolled into hash balls and sticks, thus making it possible to transport the hashish & possibly seeds of the purest Afghani lndica to cross all the borders and grace our valley during that time.
Construction in the early l970‘s of Sunshine Mesa (above Paonia) offered trades for this hash & cash to many young workers. Which brings us to a testimony from one of the heroes of this story — Papa Gangee a.k.a. Johnny WeedSeed.
It was around I974 & he was hanging out with a Boulder guy for whom he did masonry work. “He was a big time Boulder drug guy,” said Papa Gangee. “I did a lot of work on his house. Every time he’d go to pay me, he’d get me so stoned so that he’d get a better deal out of me. This one time, he had a coffee table and there were 3 black balls the size of softballs of black hash on this coffee table. He passed out on the couch…l get up & hit the coffee table. A ball rolls off the coffee table, and l pick it up & I’m trying to get it back together. And l look down on the ﬂoor and there’s these seeds.” Papa Gangee then says he couldn’t resist knocking the other balls off the table & grabbing the seeds in them too, totaling I6 seeds, and leaving. He brought them to his friend Oklahoma Boy, who had property near Needle Rock in Crawford and grew the ﬁrst crop of P.P.P. From there, he proliferated the attire North Fork Valley with seeds, including communes such as the Four Directions on the west end of Redlands Mesa. Soon the P.P.P. seed ﬂourished in the fertile volcanic soil & climate (similar to Afghanistan’s) throughout our region taking on names like P-BUD, Redlands Mesa Red & Marcellina Thunderfuck (Named after a mountain above Paonia).
By the mid l970’s people from all over began hearing enchanting tales of the paralyzing effects of this tantalizing Indica strain. Then, another local source stated that “The Paonia Purple Paralyzer gained so much popularity that in the mid 1970’s High Times published an article about it. That’s when l was living in California, heard about it and told my friends “We have to go try that’“’ This California witness was not alone. He & his friends along with many other weed connoisseurs poured into the valley throughout the 70s & 80s. However, several sources agree, that this brought a magniﬁed level of exposure to the Federal Drug Agencies. It is accounted by local Paonia residents that the Agents directed patrols to eradicate this notorious strain over the late 70’s and throughout the mid 90‘s. This pressure from the Federal is said to have led to the extinction of the P.P.P….Until now.
As unbelievable and amazing as it sounds, yet entirely true, 35 Years ago 2 different proprietary growers of the P.P.P. stored 100’s of these pure seeds from the original crops. Will the legend of the Paonia Purple Paralyzer be resurrected to produce the same potent effects as before? Will more holders of the sacred seed unearth? As the story unveils, decades later, it is clear to see this legend was meant to be shared and apprised. Meanwhile, a grow facility in Ridgway, CO is currently cultivating a close comeback. “We feel fortunate to have the connections to receive these seeds. We hope to honor the origins & nostalgia of this inﬂuential strain and all of the original Paonia Purple Paralyzer farmers of this area, says General Manager David Niccum. And as Greenman, another North Fork Valley farmer, holds forth: “After decades of slumber, the Paonia Purple Paralyzer will ﬁnally awaken to its rightful place in the Sun, both literally and ﬁguratively”
In 1971, despite being illegal, pot could be found nearly everywhere in the U.S. Some of it was good, but most of it was smuggled in from Mexico. Those of us involved in meeting the expanding demand for pot were always on the lookout for better product. Since the late ’60s, a trickle of hashish, the concentrated and potent resin, had begun to show up in places like Boulder, Colorado. So much more potent than pot, it was prized and celebrated when it showed up, coming from places like Nepal, Lebanon, and especially Afghanistan, where it had been cultivated for centuries.
Illegal growing operations had begun to flourish in remote rural places around the nation, and as any gardener or farmer will tell you, the quality of the plant begins with the seed and the climate in which is grown. Pioneering growers were beginning to turn out better quality product, but not having access to high quality, original, and native cannabis seeds hindered them.
I want to share with you the story of how a trip to Amsterdam to sell Orange Sunshine LSD led to my bringing back a stash of seeds that would help birth a legendary pot known as Purple Paonia Paralyzer in Paonia, Colorado.
In 1971, I owned the Cotangent, a small fashion-clothing store on the hill in Boulder, Colorado. That year, I traveled to Europe with my wife Rosie, our one-and-a-half-year-old son Mikeljon, and Marina, a Dutch Indonesian beauty as our nanny. We entered Holland with a brand-new Volkswagen bus and 30,000 hits of Orange Sunshine acid I planned to sell to the locals. Unfortunately, Amsterdam had turned sleazy by the time we arrived, and I had a bad trip there when some street thugs tried to rob me. That convinced me to leave Holland, Muy Pronto, for Copenhagen, Denmark.
While walking on Stroeget, the walking street of Copenhagen, I was suddenly seized and lifted up into the air. The villain was Otis Taylor, a dear old friend of mine from Denver, Colorado. Otis is a great blues performer. In 2004, Otis and Etta James were named the “Best Blues Entertainers by a Living Blues readers’ poll.” Otis had been living in Europe working on his music, and introduced me to the high end of Danish hip society—the musicians, the artists, shop owners and, of course, the drug dealers.
A week later, my small family and I were living on Bornholm, a Danish island that is a12-hour ferry ride from Malmo, Sweden. We had been invited by Jim Manning, an American who owned a leather store called the Bit Ov Sole in Copenhagen, to visit his farm. During the next few months, we went back and forth between Bornholm and Denmark. We eventually parked the VW bus in Christiana, the free city inside Copenhagen where hippies had completely taken over the former military buildings. Their commune’s central government allowed no police presence. Coffee houses, vegetarian restaurants and crash hostels occupied the buildings the commune had appropriated. It was complete harmony with one hand waving free.
Christiana was even more radical than my hometown of Boulder. While peddling my LSD in Denmark, I ended up at a house off Friedens Ark near Pusher Street where about 12 people, mostly girls, lived. The house was the end point of a smuggling operation by some Danes. Unloading their drugs from false-bottom suitcases and special-built vehicles, the traders unpacked, disassembled, and repackaged their psychic condiments mostly for sale to locals, but some were from Scandinavia and some big buyers came from Eastern Europe. At that house I met Pimm, a Danish smuggler, who also kept a house in a small village outside of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. A smuggler takes something of lesser value to a faraway place where it increases in value and creates a bigger profit. Pimm’s profitable business was walnuts. He would take apart walnuts in Afghanistan, replace the nut with a gram of hash, glue the shells back together, and export them to Denmark by the case. I appreciated his ingenuity, but I told him of a smuggling technique I had in mind that involved exotic animals and false-bottom cages.
Five days later, he and I flew to Kabul, Afghanistan. Pimm kept a vehicle in Kabul and we drove north to Mazar-i-Sharif. Two days later, we left for the Hindu Kush region near Pakistan. Pimm spoke Pashto and knew how to greet and pay baksheesh to the right tribal leader. We traveled unmolested through Afghanistan during that time with a photo of their leader on the dash of our car.
We met some mujahedeen and drank tea with them in their tents. They introduced us to a farmer/grower. Pimm bought hash from him and I traded my parka to the son for 10,000 Afghani Indica marijuana seeds. The Hindu Kush region compared to the high desert of Colorado — hot days, cool nights, crisp air, and the mountains that seemed so like Colorado’s that I came up with an idea to take the seeds back to my own hemisphere. The valleys of the Hindu Kush resembled the Paonia Valley on my side of the world.
The Hindu Kush region compared to the high desert of Colorado — hot days, cool nights, crisp air, and the mountains that seemed so like Colorado’s that I came up with an idea to take the seeds back to my own hemisphere.
I am not a very technical or scientific person. Taking the tea bag out of hot water is about my speed, but I had a feeling. Even so, I helped Pimm design and manufacture the cages to hold both animals and hashish. Pimm shipped my seeds with his walnuts in the cages. I left him in Kabul to his adventures and departed to my own adventure in Nepal. Before I left, I went to the local market and bought a sheepskin coat and bags of spices. I put about a hundred seeds in one cardamom spice bag. Rosie took the bags back with her to Colorado.
Six months later, I shipped the majority of seeds from Denmark back to Colorado inside a stuffed animal, along with two hardcover copies of Hans Christian Andersen stories. I sent it to a mailbox on Sugarloaf Mountain, an address of an old friend of mine who died in Vietnam. One of my staff lived across the road and he would pick up the package to complete their journey. Truthfully, the seeds were an afterthought, not on top of my priority list.. However, I knew nothing of genetics or growing. I was just a marketer, so I call the noble experiment that took place over the next three years “happenstance.”
I bought a farm with the Boogie commune, 20 acres outside of Hotchkiss where my family and the commune lived on Sunshine Mesa. The boogies made leather coats and I sold them in the Cotangent. I never spoke to anyone about the seed.
By now, commercial growers were moving into the area since the land was cheap and came with good water rights. The locals accepted the longhairs unconditionally. The cops used to post signs on the patches they busted that read, “This time your grass, next time your ass.” It’s my opinion that grow operators have a completely different mindset than others in the marijuana trade. They are little shifty and often flip the script and change the deal, maybe because of the long time it takes to go germination to counting Benjamins. If you touch, pamper, and talk to the plants and do those actions repeatedly in your mind, your perceptions change over the years.
Since I did not allow growing on my property, Rosie and our friend Monte grew the hundred seeds from the cardamom spice bag in several locations around Paonia and Hotchkiss. The only plants we personally grew came from those hundred seeds. I called the resulting pot, “Do not drive a motor vehicle.” I selected a group of growers, threw a party at harvest time, and invited that group. When the harvest came in the valley, it was a wondrous time. Everyone was blitzed.
The bulk of the seed was given away to growers from all over the country; it went to Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Indiana and all over the valley. It was always my hope that these giveaways would result in reciprocal trade, though sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn’t. I never realized the impact the seed had until I started working on my book, Pioneers of Leisure. Delta County where Paonia was known as one of the poorest counties in Colorado, but the seed changed the dynamics of the families. The families now made enough money to live for a year and what used to be a supplemental income became their primary income. One year a family might be living hand-to-mouth and next year they were buying acreage. Long-term local residents grew wealthy. Of course, as usual, along with the good came the bad—people riding along irrigation ditches looking to raid someone’s patches.
Paonia now is a destination for weed connoisseurs worldwide. The seed I had brought back from Afghanistan became known as Purple Paonia Paralyzer. Uncle Butch Eisenmenger, a Cannabis Cup judge, told me it was the strongest herb he had ever seen. The seed had taken on its own destiny. I have often thought if I had altered the natural flow, I would have destroyed the mystique it still enjoys. A legend was born.
Purple Paralyzer cannabis strain is an even hybrid born in the 1970’s with a THC average of 12%, but its still incredibly potent. It smells like a bouquet of sweet but slightly musky grapes. Buds are dark purple with a few golden hairs which are all swallowed up by gooey resin. It can treat tremors, spasms, pain anxiety, inflammation and stress. This strain is good for daytime and evening usage.