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(I reviewed a documentary about Nick Sand but it did not mention that
his dad was a Communist spy:
NY Times, May 12 2017
Nicholas Sand, Chemist Who Sought to Bring LSD to the World, Dies at 75
By WILLIAM GRIMES
One day in 1964, Nicholas Sand, a Brooklyn-born son of a spy for the
Soviet Union, took his first acid trip. He had been fascinated by
psychedelic drugs since reading about them as a student at Brooklyn
College and had experimented with mescaline and peyote. Now, at a
retreat run by friends in Putnam County, N.Y., he took his first dose of
LSD, still legal at the time.
Sitting naked in the lotus position, before a crackling fire, he
surrendered to the experience. A sensation of peace and joy washed over
him. Then he felt himself transported to the far reaches of the cosmos.
“I was floating in this immense black space,” he recalled in the
documentary “The Sunshine Makers,” released in 2015. “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.’ ”
Like Moses receiving the tablets, Mr. Sand took this commandment to
heart. After being trained by the lab partner of Owsley Stanley,
America’s premier LSD chemist, he set about producing vast quantities of
the purest LSD on the market. His most celebrated product, known as
Orange Sunshine for the color of the tablets it came in, became a
signature drug of the late 1960s.
Touted by Timothy Leary as the finest acid available, “the tiny orange
pills quickly acquired near-mythic status,” Martin A. Lee and Bruce
Shlain wrote in “Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD”
(1992). Distributed by the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a drug cult
based in Laguna Beach, Calif., it showed up wherever hippies gathered:
at Grateful Dead concerts, in California communes, in Indian ashrams, in
the hashish havens of Afghanistan. Mr. Sand made sure that Orange
Sunshine was available to American soldiers fighting in Vietnam, whose
minds he hoped to bend in the direction of nonviolence and brotherly love.
The goal was simple. “If we could turn on everyone in the world,” he
said in the documentary, “then maybe we’d have a new world of peace and
It did not work out that way. Orange Sunshine was Mr. Sand’s ticket to a
life on the run. For years he raced to stay a step ahead of federal
agents, and after being convicted on drug and tax-evasion charges, he
hid in Canada for two decades under an assumed name. Eventually, after
being arrested and unmasked, he was returned to the United States, where
he served six years in prison.
He emerged an unchanged man, totally committed to the beatific vision
granted to him that day in upstate New York.
Mr. Sand died on April 24 at his home in Lagunitas, Calif. He was 75.
The cause was a heart attack, said Gina Raetze, his longtime companion,
who uses the name Usha, which she adopted as a follower of Bhagwan Shree
He was born Nicholas Francis Hiskey in Brooklyn on May 10, 1941, to
Clarence and Marcia Hiskey. His father was a chemist and, since his
college days, a committed Communist. He was recruited by Soviet
intelligence during World War II while working on the Manhattan Project,
from which he was expelled after American investigators saw him meeting
with a Russian agent.
When Nick, as he was known, was a young boy, his mother, an activist for
a time with the party, divorced her husband, took back her maiden name,
Sand, and gave it to her son.
Mr. Sand graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1959 and two years
later married Maxine Solomon, a childhood sweetheart.
After working for a year on a kibbutz in Israel, the couple returned to
New York, where, taking night courses, Mr. Sand earned a bachelor’s
degree in sociology and anthropology from Brooklyn College in 1966.
After taking his first psychedelic drug, mescaline, in 1962, Mr. Sand
taught himself chemistry and set up a lab in his mother’s attic to make
dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. Although it produced only a brief high, it
was much easier to formulate than LSD. Brisk demand prompted a move to
larger premises in a Brooklyn loft, where he created the fictitious Bell
An invitation from Richard Alpert, Mr. Leary’s former Harvard colleague,
brought him to Millbrook, a farm in Dutchess County, N.Y., where Mr.
Alpert, Mr. Leary and others had started a psychedelic community. After
1966, when LSD became illegal, Millbrook created the Original Kleptonian
Neo-American Church, whose clergy members, known as Boo Hoos,
administered sacraments in the form of psychedelic drugs. Mr. Sand was
designated the “alchemist” of the new religion, as well as of Mr.
Leary’s church, the League for Spiritual Discovery, whose initials
The glory days lay just ahead. In 1967, Mr. Stanley, America’s premier
LSD chemist, encouraged Mr. Sand to shift his operations to California.
To help him get started, he offered him the services of his lab partner,
Tim Scully, who proved to be a brilliant teacher.
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