Hashing it out
Are Sacramento’s concentrates as good as the sticky-icky trichome balls of Kush Mountain lore?
I spent a good part of the ’90s living in Amsterdam, the ganja capital of the Western world. For a hashish lovin’ American, who was used to the high-powered Seattle Godhead bud, I needed extra-extra-strength hashish to quench my neurons.
At first, I frequented tourist coffee shops. But after a couple of days, that got old. I was housesitting in east Amsterdam, a working-class neighborhood with a huge Muslim population that few tourists ever see. One day, while working a day job at a construction site, I realized that I did not have time to go to my favorite “hip” coffee shop on the Ferdinand Bolstraat before work. So, I ducked into a Turkish-run coffee shop around the corner from my flat. Not only was I welcome there, but I also found the best hashish that I ever smoked: Black Afghani, soft as rubber and as fragrant as flowers on a May morning. Most importantly, you only needed a match head size of it to blast off.
My point is that I was completely spoiled by the incredible hashish in the Netherlands—and was convinced that hash at Sacramento’s dispensaries would never come close to that imported from the Kush Mountains.
Or so I thought.
To find out about American-made hashish, and what to look for when buying it, I went to The Green Door, on 21st Street in Midtown, and spoke with Jason, the collective’s hashish specialist.
Grabbing a loupe and a tiny flashlight, Jason held up a vial of hashish and told me to take a look. What I saw looked like sugar crystals imbedded into the hash.
“When you look close up at hashish with a magnifying glass, you can see the crystals,” said Jason. “Those are trichomes. This is good hash.”
“There should be a nice, earthy smell to it,” he added. “It can be brown, black, green or tan, depending on the type of cannabis that it was made from.”
Hashish is compressed marijuana trichomes and has been made for centuries by the inhabitants of Afghanistan, Lebanon, Morocco, India and Nepal. Unlike Western hash—which, like all things Western, is made at the fastest pace physically possible—the hash made in the above countries is often done so by old people gently kneading the trichomes out of the weed with their fingers. This ancient technique doesn’t call for swag and leaves; they use buds. To make good hash, you need good weed.
What used to take days to make the ancient way now takes a couple of hours. Bubble Hash is a hashish manufacturing method that harvests almost all the trichomes through ice-water extraction. Developed by Amsterdam native Milla Jansen, it is an extremely simple process where one puts a bunch of clippings into an Ice-O-Lator, then sieves the cannabis through a series of smaller bags until you get almost pure THC. Similar products are can be used in a regular washing machine. It is all online if you want to check it out.
“We’ve seen really potent bubble hash up to … 70 percent THC,” said Jason. “Anything up to 50 percent is really, really high.”
So, it is now possible for anyone with a pound of weed and an Ice-O-Lator to make an ounce of hashish right in their home in a few hours. It’s kind of like that scene in the Raiders of the Lost Ark, where a huge man with a mighty sword is killed by one well-placed bullet by a smirking Indiana Jones. The swordsman spent years learning his skills, turning his body into a fearsome fighting machine, only to get dropped by modern technology.
Hash oil, or honey oil, is another potent way to ingest cannabis. This method uses a solvent such as isopropyl alcohol—be wary of butane hash!—to separate trichomes, which are then filtered and evaporated leaving a thick oily substance that can be smoked by itself, on top of cannabis or smeared on a tobacco cigarette. One drop on something hot and buckle your seatbelt.
“Hash oil is always going to be the strongest hash because it is so pure,” explained Jason. “We get our products tested and it is usually between 70 percent THC to 90 percent THC.”
It appears that my prejudice about domestic hashish was psychosomatic. The product tests come out with high THC results, and you can easily see the trichomes with a simple magnifying glass. Modern science produced the Ice-O-Lator, and now anyone can make hashish the DIY way. It is no longer the realm of old stoners in isolated mountain ranges, spending their golden years rolling out small balls.
Damn, now I have to make new retirement plans.