This article appears in Volume 5 – Issue 1 of SKUNK Magazine.
ACAPULCO GOLD was a broadly used name applied to many strains of Mexican cannabis in the late 60s. Acapulco was a cruise ship, jet set and bohemian tourist destination at the time and thus, Acapulco Gold was named after where it was sold, not grown. Most Mexican grass was golden in color, though red strains were plentiful, especially from Guerro area.
While living in Afghanistan in the early 70s, I grew my personal stash from Mexican seeds. Under the tutelage of my Afghan neighbor, I cultivated an indica strain, as well. The next year, I crossed the two types. It was a nice difference from the thin, pliable, hand-pressed, gourmet Balkh hashish.
A few years later, I purchased a property in the Northern California foothills to go “back to earth living,” organically growing fruit, nuts and vegetables. Two locally raised, twenty-something farm boys pressed me to grow cannabis for profit. I had seeds collected from many Asian purchases that had come my way in Thailand, Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka, Java, Nepal and Burma; to name a few.
After curing, I was ecstatic with the results. My two young partners exclaimed that we had something to rival any high-end import that was 99% of the market at the time.
It had been hard work. At the end of the season—daily—my calves were caked with mud; arms scratched and gouged from manzanita thorns, plus many a mosquito bite. I queried the farm boys as to our financial reward for the effort. When they insisted it would be 75% the value of the imports (even though it was just as good), I was flabbergasted.
“It’s homegrown,” they said, “and people don’t think of it as exotic or cool.”
My sales tool would be the humble t-shirt. The shirt would be somewhere between a wine label and a baseball card in bubble gum: informative, collectable and artistic.
It soon came forward how incredibly high the paranoia level had been jacked up “weed-wise” in the collective consciousness. The first half-dozen artists I approached to create the illustration for the shirt flipped out! A variation of, “CAN’T YOU GET TEN YEARS FOR DRAWING POT FLOWERS?” he or she would fearfully exclaim. The artist’s hands would begin to shake, eyes blink madly and studio door closed, all the while implying I was a nutcase or a narc.
I ended up drawing the first illustration myself and simply titled it “Sinsemilla”. Sweet, virgin and spicy was the advertising promise: one shirt with each one-ounce purchase. On my first trip to market the buyers were reluctant, continuing the canard that it was “only homegrown,” but all agreed to a one-time purchase to get the t-shirt. By the time I got home, my answering machine was loaded with calls asking, “Got any more t-shirts?” and it was the same question… until fixed-wing aerial searches became public property.