The rise and fall of the "hippie route"

Hippy minivan model 1967

The Best Genetics That Were Smuggled Into Europe And Changed The Cannabis World Forever

Exotic locations, colorful people, huge amounts of hash and the refined genetics that were introduced to Europe and North America and changed the cannabis world forever. The main origin story of the cannabis strains we consume today.

Crossing Europe and Asia on the roads

After World War II, in Western Europe and North America, a new generation seeks refuge from the paradigms that brought destruction and war. Slowly, "counter cultures" began to develop advocating opposition to the establishment and placing ideals such as peace, equality, freedom and free love at the top of their list of priorities.

Among these movements, a good number sought to satisfy their sense of adventure by wanting to reach the Far East in order to be exposed to new cultures and religions, to become familiar with spiritual experiences and unknown ideas and of course to experiment with mind-altering plants.

At first, it was just a few individuals who rented or bought a car and started the overland journey from Europe to East Asia. Very quickly, the various transport companies saw the enormous economic potential inherent in the growing phenomenon and began to develop regular bus lines and passed through all the popular places along the route and which had already been dubbed the " Hippie Trail. »

The classic 'Hippie Road' route began in London, England, where passengers boarded a ferry or boat for France (the overland tunnel connecting the two countries did not exist at that time. ) From France, it was usually usual to continue by car or bus through most Central European cities, including Brussels, Amsterdam, West Berlin, sometimes also via Milan, Rome, Zurich Vienna, and from there to the Eastern Europe region the Balkans, via Istanbul in Turkey and Beirut in Lebanon, then eastwards Tehran in Iran, Kabul in Afghanistan, Peshawar in Pakistan, Kathmandu in Nepal, Delhi in India and Bangkok in Thailand . Of course, this was not a fixed route, and quite a few travelers swerved by taking detours along other routes such as Amman in Jordan, Baghdad in Iraq, Goa in India, Bali in Indonesia or Colombo in Sri -Lanka.

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The main route of the Hippie Road (Image: Wikipedia)

At all of these stops along the way, hundreds if not thousands of diverse and varied businesses have grown up quite rapidly to meet the needs of western backpackers, in the form of hostels and hotels, restaurants and cafes and a few merchants who tried to sell everything and anything to white tourists: traditional clothes, art objects, antiques, musical instruments, spices, precious stones and of course a lot of cannabis and hashish.

Smuggling tourism reaches its peak

In some places, like in Nepal for example, a significant part of the hash trade was not done by “walking” vendors, but through organized shops owned by the government. For example, the " freak street to the south of Kabul was one of the most popular points of sale in the region, offering hashish or cannabis to be purchased by weight, but also coffee or other typical dishes as well as milk or ganja tea. The place was so popular that direct bus lines left from the airport to get there.

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“Eden Hashish Center” – a legal cannabis and hashish shop in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1973, just before it was declared illegal due to pressure from Western countries

The fact that hashish was so available and cheap at most stops along the route, together with the relative ease with which it was possible to cross the borders of the region at that time, succeeded in awakening in the mind of some backpackers the idea of ​​bringing this good hashish home in order to make taste it to his friends. Some backpackers have not been satisfied with small amounts, but have made it their main means of financing their trip. Some of them opened entire smuggling networks that flooded Europe and North America with unprecedented amounts of hashish.

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One of the leading figures in hash smuggling was Jerry Beiseler, known as "the bandit of Kabul". Beisle, was able to find Afghan hash cultivators and with the help of some local and Western friends, he developed various smuggling methods and varieties. He also made diplomatic and customs contacts (sometimes using bribes) to ensure that the goods sent to Western Europe arrived safely in Amsterdam.

Until that time, the source of cannabis in Europe and North America was based on the local culture as well as that of Mexico and Colombia, hashish was present but quite rare and consumed mainly by immigrants from the Middle East. From the 1960s 1970s along with the huge circulation of hashish from Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Lebanon and to some extent Morocco, the black market was exposed to a new form of exotic cannabis and full of flavor.

Selected Genetics Grouping Postcards

The influence of the “hippie route” on the cannabis world was not limited to the transport of “finished products” like hashish. Along with all the miscellaneous souvenirs and merchandise Western backpackers returned home with, it turns out there were quite a few cannabis seeds. One of the well-known groups of that time that was involved in the distribution of cannabis seeds in the West was 'The Brotherhood of Eternal Love' which advocated, among other things, the production and distribution of LSD, but also took a large part participated in the project of collecting various cannabis genetics from across the East and smuggling them into the United States. –

In fact, we can say that during the "Hippie Way" period the era of breeding and hybridization began, between strains of indica/afgani origin and the common strains of the time in North America and to some extent in Europe including 'Acapulco gold' from Mexico, 'Panama Red' from Panama, 'Ponto Rojo' from Colombis, which had distinct properties.

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The new importation of Indica/Afghanica strains, mainly those from the Indu-Kush mountain range that crosses Pakistan and Afghanistan, allowed hybrid strains to be cultivated for the first time which exhibited a weak growth pattern with small gaps. between the branches and a short flowering period, which favored the gradual transition to modern 'Indoor' crops under artificial lighting

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Some of the Common Cannabis Strains in the United States in 1977 (from High Times magazine)

Among the famous varieties of hybrid that came into the world during this time, we can mention the Skunk, which is a combination of strains from Afghanistan, Colombia and Mexico, Northern Lights, which was created by growing Thai and Afghani strains, or the different 'Haza' which came about as a result of a combination of ^ Cannabis plants from 4 geographically different sources: Thailand, South India, Colombia and Mexico.

These new hybrid varieties were in demand not only because of their morphological structure and for their short flowering period, but also because of their chemical composition produced by their flowering, which was often rich in cannabinoids and terpenes, which was not not common in native varieties.

A taste of the way of the hippies

As with all good things, the success story of the "Hippie Way" must also come to an end. After about two decades in which the region experienced the free flow of people, ideas, merchandise and fine cannabis genetics, the legendary road began to decline until the late 1970s and it was almost impossible to use for various reasons.

During the year 1979, two major events took place which finally put an end to the hippie route. The first was the Islamic revolution in Iran, it became much more difficult and less pleasant to reach Tehran, which was considered one of the pillars of the road. The second event was the war that the Soviet Union declared against the Muslim rebels in Afghanistan, which transformed the whole Hindu-Kush mountain range in the north of the country in an intensive combat zone.

Additionally, in the 1970s, a series of brutal murders took place in the area, which were ultimately attributed to a French citizen of Vietnamese descent named charles sobhraj, who was suspected of murdering at least 12 Western backpackers. Rumors of these shocking murders helped to undermine the sense of security that generally characterized the road. For clarification, Sobhraj was released in December 2022 from a prison in Nepal after serving his 19-year sentence to which he had been sentenced.

However, despite everything, the "hippie route" remains indirectly alive and dynamic, even today thanks to the richness of its genetic heritage that it left behind, and thanks to its beautiful varieties of cannabis that we enjoy today. So the next time you take a puff from a good quality cannabis flower adorned with dense, flavor-rich trichomes, remember that there's a good chance you'll enjoy the experience thanks to a group of adventurous and daring hippies who conquered the Far East some sixty years ago who have returned with seeds to pamper you.

This article is brought to us by cannabis magazine SRI

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The author weedmaster

Media broadcaster and communications manager specializing in legal cannabis. Do you know what they say? knowledge is power. Understand the science behind cannabis medicine, while staying up to date with the latest health related research, treatments and products. Stay up to date with the latest news and ideas on legalization, laws, political movements. Discover tips, tricks and how-to guides from the most seasoned growers on the planet, including the latest research and findings from the scientific community on the medical qualities of cannabis.

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