Our story begins in the early 90's when our founder Nic began experimenting with Cannabis while he was studying botany. While Nic greatly enjoyed the healthy and beneficial effects provided by the worlds most useful herb, he detested the fact that Cannabis was prohibited. Nic reasoned that to be locked in a cage for using a beneficial herb was complete and utter insanity. Who does man think he is to make nature illegal? As a horticulture student, Nic knew there just had to be other herbs around the planet that offered beneficial effects just like Cannabis, but were not yet prohibited. The benefits could still be enjoyed without the threat of ruining ones life.
About this time Nic crossed paths with another student who was experimenting with a shamanic herb called Datura. He prepared Nic a brew made from the flowers of the Datura plant (in hindsight it was actually a Brugmansia species) and some strange, toxic and unpleasant effects were experienced. For the next few days there were unpleasant after effects including blurred vision. While the Datura experiment was not worth repeating, it certainly confirmed Nic's hypothesis that there were other plants out there that were legal and capable of producing profound psychoactive effects.
A short time later Nic went flatting in Wellington, and one day while looking for interesting literature in the Wellington public library, he came across two books that were life changing.
Legal Highs by Adam Gottilieb
Plants of the Gods by Richard Evans Schultes, Albert Hofmann & Christian Ratsch
Suddenly he had a list of hundreds of legal psychedelic and psychoactive herbs, plants, seeds, cacti, mushrooms and chemicals to source and experiment with. He rounded up his most 'up for it' surfing mates and in between surfs they spent the next few years visiting every garden center, spice supplier and Chinese herbalist in the region, experimenting with whatever they could get there hands on. Some of the herbs and other products experimented with during this time include: Absinthe, Aged Broom flowers, Calamus, Catnip, Coleus, Damiana, Ephedra, Herbal XTC pills, Hops, Kava, Morning Glory, NOS, Nutmeg, Passion Flower, Skullcap, Valerian and an assortment of various cacti, mushrooms and other substances.
Wow! That certainly gave the lads a fresh perspective. Wow!
Nic considered opening a shop to share the many benefits of the various legal psychoactive, healing and sacred herbs he and his friends had experimented with, but what really spurred him on was the combination of having his first experience with Diviner's Sage and crossing paths with two young entrepreneurs who were already openly supplying legal psychoactive products: James McNee of Alphaware and Matt Bowden of Stargate International. James had supplied Nic with some of the Diviner's Sage 10X extract he was supplying which Nic tried and experienced a powerful vision that left him certain opening shop was the right thing to do, while Matt had been trading in legal psychoactive party pills (legal speed and XTC alternatives) in New Zealand since the late 90's, marketing his products as safer, measured, legal alternatives to illegal and adulterated street drugs.
Matt's harm reduction ideas made a great deal of sense to Nic, who went ahead and launched MindFuel in 2004, as an online smartshop + legal herbal distributor, supplying not only Stargate's party pills and Alphaware's Salvia divinorum extracts, but also the large selection of herbs, plants and seeds that he and his friends had been collecting and experimenting with over the last decade. Alongside pure, unadulterated products, accurate harm reduction information was promoted, including safe dosage instructons, warnings on unsafe combinations, health warnings and contraindications. All products were strictly R18 and manufactured to a high standard , with vitamins and anti-oxidants to help further reduce any harm. The now budding New Zealand legal highs industry self regulated in a sensible manner. Things worked extremely well for a few years, with the party pills reducing street drug usage and associated health and crime problems in New Zealand.
Unfortunately it was not to last and a tidal wave of cowboy operators entered the market hoping to make a quick buck. They copied Matt's products leaving out the vitamins and quality controls, applying the crude marketing principle that stronger = better. Suddenly the market was flooded with cheap party pills that were up to 10 times the strength of the pills Matt had been manufacturing, resulting in consumers getting sick. While extremely unpleasant when overdosed, this certainly proved Matt's claim that his party pills were safer than illegal street drugs to be indeed correct. Rather than overdosing and dying, users were simply getting sick. The products had a built in safety mechanism where it was almost impossible to fatally overdose as taking more than the recommended dose would simply result in unpleasant side effects.
While most of the legal highs industry including MindFuel, Stargate, Alphaware and a host of other sensible suppliers such as Cosmic and the Hemp-store's Chris Fowley pleaded with the government to strictly regulate the products so that they must be sold in a safe dosage with appropriate health warnings, the government refused to listen, preferring to present a 'get tough on drugs' image after being egged on by sensational and one sided media headlines. Instead of giving regulation a try, in their infinite wisdom they banned the products all together. Party Pills and their main ingredients (the Piperazines BZP and TFMPP) were prohibited. The result: black market street drugs in New Zealand becoming flooded with Piperazines and other research chemicals still to this day and ironically creating a market for EZ test kits, so street drug users can get some idea of what they might be actually consuming. As for MindFuel we simply switched to the various herbal XTC formulations imported from the Netherlands that contained different ingredients.
Meanwhile Matt had introduced a new legal product to the New Zealand market: Spice - a synthetic alternative to cannabis. While the MindFuel team used and enjoyed the effect of the original formulation of Spice, we considered it was lacking some of the finer benefits of organic Cannabis, so developed Naki Black Hash, a resin containing a low dose of JWH-018, with added terpenes and herbal extracts to balance the effects. The fake weed eliminated the single biggest risk of using cannabis: the risk of prohibition and being locked in a cage. The other real beauty of Spice and Naki Black was that they did not show up in work place urine drug tests, which were unfairly punishing cannabis users and their families by costing them their jobs for a smoke they had had weeks or even months earlier.
In any event, just as with the party pills before, the cowboys quickly entered the market with excessively strong and dangerous products. This time the government listened to the industry and introduced the psychoactive substances act to license products and suppliers of legal highs. Unfortunately rather than restricting licenses to the knowledgeable headshops like MindFuel, they licensed many of the same cowboys who had caused the problems to begin with such as coin save and $2shop type stores. Once again the media went bat-shit crazy and in election year, the Key government prohibited the products altogether, as well as all other psychoactive substances. That's right, they actually prohibited everything on earth capable of producing a psychoactive effect, including all plants, aromatherapy, exercise, incense, meditation, music, religion, sex and tea.
Luckily they made an exemption for herbs, herbal remedies, supplements, medicines and foods. And so today MindFuel's catalogue is bigger and better than ever, offering not only kava, kanna, hemp, herbs, extracts, smart supplements and seeds from every corner of the globe, but also the highest quality smoking and vaping innovations imported from the likes of Amsterdam, Colorado and California.
Cannabis looks almost legal in New Zealand now too with the newly elected Labour government promising a referendum on recreational cannabis by 2020 and most kiwi's now in favor of law reform. Perhaps our search for the holy grail has almost gone full circle and we will soon be supplying you with the world's original favourite herb. Or at least the seeds so you can grow your own. After-all, the governments Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA) licensing framework is still in place. All the government needs to do is use it. Until then we will continue to search the planet for new and smarter products to help you 'explore your mind'
Keep it smart,