The Legend of Panama Red

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex Moderator
In this story you'll learn who and how this 12 ton load of Panama Red was smuggled into California.

Have you ever heard the legend of Panama Red? I mean you have heard of Panama Red haven't you? Well here's the true story about a load that came into California, in 1969.

I drove up Highway 1, to Maple Street, in Tam Valley, and turned left. If you know where this is, it's near Mill Valley. I went to my connection's house to see what exotic weed had come in. He had Yucatan Green, which was fully filled into white plastic bags. It had a fruity aroma, and you could uncoil the kiwi colored green leaves back into their natural finger and hand shapes. I'd never seen weed cured this well. It was somehow cured like pliable tobacco leaves. The price was $150. a pound which was a lot back in those days. Next a brown grocery sack came out of the closet, which I noticed was full of both white plastic bags and the brown grocery bags. From my quick glance I estimated about 10 bags of weed in all.

As the top of the brown bag was unfolded I immediately smelled the strong aroma of fresh tilled earth, perhaps the smell when you turn over a mulching log, combined with red clay. Then I distinguished another smell. The smell of fresh earth was mixed with a strong hashish smell. A handful of the well dried small buds was pulled out and laid on the stainless steel plate of the triple-beam. I was in wonder as I had never seen any weed that wasn't green or gold. To my amazement these small buds were a bright rusty color. Not brown like the Colombian Gold I scored a few years later, but you know, a rusty red color. I asked: Where's this weed from?

My connection told me the story.

This is Panama Red. This stuff grows in the mountains north of the Panama Canal. The soil is red to black, with rain all the time. It's impossible to get this weed, but I have access to about a ton of it.

How much is it for a pound, I asked him.

It's $220. a pound. My wad of cash choked in my pocket, as I had thought that the Yucatan green was expensive. He could read me. He pulled out a paper from his Zig-Zag pack, and rolled a pinhead joint. Then he lit it up, making a yellow flame as the empty paper end burned into the weed. He took the first puff, which sent off, two thin intertwined lines of blue gray hashish like smoke, heading towards the ceiling.

He was already well stoned from encounters with his earlier customers, and when I first walked into his home I had noticed how his eyes were glazed over. He looked like the poster of a wizard, with his long hair, beard, and crystal ball eyes. If this were possible, he looked even more euphoric from the one hit; and his eyes rolled back, and closed, as he slowly stabbed the smoking pinner across the table in my direction. As I reached out for it, he said in a choked breath while exhaling smoke: You'll probably never get weed this good again.

I knew his word was always true. My connection and his group had smuggled hashish from Afghanistan, India, and Morocco. He'd been busted for importing hash in the bottom of a crate of snakes. He always had exotic weed and hash. He wouldn't mess around with the weed I could get from the pilots in my part of the state. The only stuff I could get in my area was Mexican weed which ran about $80. to $120. a brick. We called this weed, reg, for regular. The reg kilos or bricks came wrapped in red, green or blue construction paper and was taped off with masking tape. This was the regular bottom line, non-exotic, weed that was somewhat harsh to the throat, but got you stoned. We resold for $10. a lid, or if you weren't around back then, a lid is an ounce.

The hashish smell of the pinner was overcoming my thoughts, as I took a hit of pure heaven. The smoke was so smooth, with a taste just like it's unburnt smell of fresh clean earth and hashish. I thought it tasted like Lebanese Red hash, mixed with fresh earth, as I barely watched the smoke vining it's way upwards. It was hash without the bite. Then the stone came on as I took my second hit. My senses suddenly kicked into hyper space as I became acutely aware of everything. My hearing, my thinking, my senses were all rocketed into Stonesville, which is a different place for every one of us. Within a minute I realized I was really stoned. I laughed. Shortly after three hits, I started seeing trails, colors, and realized this weed was a psychedelic high too. Lots of colors, and laughs, in a mellow floating state. A weed to bring out your innermost thoughts, to philosophize, about the finer points of life and existence, with those of like mind.

In 1969, I bought five pounds of Panama Red, which is the most stony weed I have ever smoked, even to this day. When I got back home where the local Hippies were used to the $10. price of an oz., of reg, I knew I couldn't sell this rusty red weed. First, since it wasn't green, they wouldn't believe it was weed. Second, the price would be about four times what they were used to paying for an oz. of reg weed. I kept telling myself nobody was ready for this rusty weed which would send anybody, especially these locals to heaven. I knew that if I rolled pinners, it would take me years to smoke all of this exotic weed. I figured at least 80 joints to an oz., and I had 80 ozs., and let's see, that's 6400 joints. I couldn't take time to do one a day, so I figured maybe 150 a year, and um, it would take me over forty-two years to smoke all of this weed. It would lose it's potency after a year or two. Then the lightbulb came on. I'd roll up about 10 pinners and just give them away. I understood that even my friends could figure out that this was the best weed in the world. After they had smoked this fantastic weed, they would realize how stoned they were, and with the weed rolled up they wouldn't know it wasn't green! Great idea! I reached into my pocket again as I arrived at the toll booth on the Golden Gate Bridge entering San Francisco, stoned out of my mind.

I want you to know something, when I got home that's exactly what I did. I passed out the pinners and asked my friends to just try it and give me their opinions. They questioned me about the small sized joints, and I said what are you complaining about, it's free. Then the phone started ringing with questions like: What was that? Is that laced with acid? That can't be ordinary weed. Do you have any more? Then I got to tell the story of Panama Red to them, which if you ever smoked the real thing, I need not say more.


On another score trip north, about a month later, I discovered that my connection had moved to Stinson Beach. You might know where he moved if you ever went there. It was the third house back from the beach, it was on the left, the one with the purple door. When the purple door opened I gasped as I thought I saw my dad sitting down counting cash on a coffee table. I realized that it really wasn't my Dad, but the guy was a dead ringer for my dad. He had a receding conservative haircut, with brown hair, and graying sideburns. Same facial features. My connection introduced him, and for his protection, I'll just call him Roy. Roy was counting out $40,000. cash, another installment for the fronting of his illegal, precious cargo of Panama Red to my connection. This was a lot of money for a weed deal back in 1969, and probably one of a hundred bags of money picked up by Roy. You figure it out. If he sold his Panama Red for only $120. a pound, times 24,000 pounds he grossed about $2.9 million from his load. Thirty years ago this money had the purchasing power of about 4 times more than what it would buy today. However, I have no idea what Panama Red would cost today as I have never found it again. I've had Colombian Gold, but it's more of a brown tobacco color. Red is a very earthy, rusty color and I haven't even seen any counterfeit stuff offered. I haven't even seen the seeds offered. The $40,000. Roy was counting out was only a payment for about 300 pounds. Payment for a ton would be $240,000. Don't forget he had the money from selling the fish too.

Roy was a very candid person, treating me as if he'd known me his whole life. He explained the Panama Red saga. He bought a surplus submarine chaser, a 90 footer. He sold most of the military gear and paid for the vessel, with money left over. It was a typical government deal where millions were spent to build and outfit the ship, and then it was later sold for peanuts. Roy outfitted it as a fishing boat. He got a crew together and went south. He loaded in 12 tons of Panama Red, and then he and his crew went fishing. They covered the weed with tuna, iced it and headed back north. The ship was checked out, and cleared for entry. As they returned to the Bay Area, he made contact with his man onshore in northern California, who with a few hours notice, got a small fleet of fishing and sailboats together. This fleet was obviously pre-planned. The fleet was a fleet of dealers who went under the Golden Gate Bridge out about 25 miles, and towards the Farallon Islands, where the Panama Red was quickly offloaded onto these smaller boats. One Harbor Master inside the bay was in on it too, so there was little chance of anybody getting caught. I can't tell you if it was day or night, foggy, or anything about the conditions, but I do know from other smugglers that they use the worst weather conditions for all of their activities. If it's hard for them it's hard for the cops to catch them. Roy said he retired off this trip and that he sold his fish, the ship, and intended on paying the IRS it's taxes on the fish, if any were due. Roy told me the city he lived in, and I'll give you a hint, he lived between San Francisco, and San Jose. If you know him, tell him thanks from me.

I grew some plants from the very small brown seeds. The plants had stalks with alternating green and purple vertical lines. The dark green leaves had purple veins. I got tired of watering them, so I sold the crop where it stood, by selling a map with it's location. My friends nicknamed me Panama Red, for waking them up to this high. There's been no more Panama Red, that I'm aware of. If I'm wrong I'd like to read your story.

amazing read.
Great story. I smoked some Columbian Gold back in the 70's, but no Panama Red. We thought the $350 a pound price for the Gold was outrageous as we were use to the $100-$150 regs. The Red sounds like a wonderful high that I am sure we would all like to experience.
Awesome read-Wish i coulda smoked some of that, it sounds like true heaven....then again i wasnt born yet. Good stuff though +reps
Hell yeah Bubba, but $20 for an OZ of good Oaxacan...:)
Back in the day, up in the pacific n.w., regular ol' weed was ten bucks for a three finger bag, apapulco gold was forty a bag, and Panama red was the same... Oaxaca too. Then all this Columbian stuff started coming in from the Santa Marta coast ( Yeah I was a involved just a little bit, seven hour flight...) and the price of a bag was an even forty for folks all over the place down here...

Sho' would like to get hold of some real deal Panama seeds from out on that island ... :peace:
I have had the pleasure of smoking Panama Red and Aucapulco gold, and my only comment is ...yummy! I really didn't have access to a lot of good bud at that time, so that was a real treat.

Ahhh...buying a lid. Those were the good ole days. Mostly measured in fingers. 4 fingers of good homegrown ran you 20 bucks, 2 fingers of great bud ran you 40.

Thanks for the great read, Smokin'. Hugs

Peace and great bud:rollit:
I can't remember smoking any Panama Red in the 60's and 70's. Might of just don't
BUT I have been lucky enough that I just got 4 clones from an old hippie who has been growing since the 60's and these are supposed to be Panama Red. Its hard to tell anymore with so many strains floating around but we'll find out in a couple months.
I can't remember smoking any Panama Red in the 60's and 70's. Might of just don't
BUT I have been lucky enough that I just got 4 clones from an old hippie who has been growing since the 60's and these are supposed to be Panama Red. Its hard to tell anymore with so many strains floating around but we'll find out in a couple months.

I would love to see a grow journal of some panama red
This story is the MOST amazing canna story i have ever heard! Panama Red is stuff of legend and you have etched its story in the stone tablets of time.(haha i hope this story is written in a book or some shit) Dam this story alone blows all of my smoking experiences out of the water. If only I were alive to fill my lungs with that sweet panama smoke!
nice story wow a lid for 10 the good old days
That's right, 10 bucks. Almost anyone could find a keylo (2.2 lbs.) for under $150.00. Remember, gas was 25 cents a gal. & Cigs. were about the same. Ha !! We called an ox. , a lid and it was measured by how much ya could stuff into a tobacco tin. Definately over a oz. (And $10)!! That's right, the good old days !!When they'd put ya in jail for a verylong time for a little bit of weed.
But yes, that panama red was potent stuff !! I took my mother to the Dr. one day, and started driving by Redondo Beach and pretty soon, i was driving around, not knowing or careing where i was going, and i could'nt remember leaving the Drs. office. And could't concentrate long enough to get back to mom. Yeah !! Panama Red, will definately get you lost !! I'm 66 and it's the best i ever smoked !! That was about 1964 or 65 . I wish i'd kept the 54 cadillac convertable i was driving !! I testify !! That was truly the good old days !! wish i had me two hits off that skinny joint i had that day, right now, as that's all that was necessary . And i've never seen any since ??
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