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Nick Sand
Photo by Jon Hanna, Nov 2009
Nick Sand
Photo by Gene Bernofsky, 1967
from the University Archives, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
Erowid Character Vaults
Nick Sand
  gate gate
  para gate
  para sam gate
  bodhi svaha
In 1961, Nick Sand first took mescaline, sparking a life-long interest in psychedelic sacraments. While still in college, he began spending time at Millbrook, the commune home to Timothy Leary's League for Spiritual Discovery. A burgeoning interest in synthesizing psychedelic drugs grew into an avocation when, during a vision quest on DMT, Sand came to believe that he should devote his life entirely to manufacturing entheogens. He became a criminal as a matter of principle and as an act of civil disobedience, because he believed he was working for a higher good. He left New York in 1967, and headed to the San Francisco Bay Area to set up a lab, where he manufactured DOM (known at the time under the street name "STP") and MDA.

From 1968 through 1969 in Windsor, California, Sand worked in an illicit lab with Tim Scully, who taught Sand how to manufacture LSD. Scully and Sand both felt that it was extremely important to create a product of the highest purity at a standardized dose; these goals resulted in one of the most beloved "brands" of acid in the late 1960s: "Orange Sunshine". Although infamous because of his black-market LSD production, Sand was also the first underground chemist on record to have synthesized DMT. Eventually Sand and Scully were both arrested. In 1974, Sand was sentenced to 15 years, but he jumped bail and relocated to Canada, where he set up a new lab. He was arrested again in 1996 in Canada. Sand served time in prison from 1996 through late 2000, first in Canada, and then in the United States in fulfillment of the 22-year-old sentence that he had evaded. Since his release from prison, Sand has spoken at numerous public events.

Nick died in his sleep late on April 24th, 2017.

[Read full biography]

  • Better Living Through Chemistry: Nick Sand (2002)
  • "Inside LSD" (deleted scenes), Explorer, National Geographic (October 2009)
  • Interview with Daniel Williams (mp3 format, April 2009)