Hashish

ˈhash | Noun

A concentrate produced by pressing or rubbing the removed resin glands, or trichomes, of a cannabis plant together to form brick, slab, or rolled pieces. Hashish can be a chocolate brown, greenish khaki, or sandy brown color.

 

“Back in the ’70s, I smoked some Lebanese blonde hashish, but we just called it ‘hash.’ It was a big piece and you knew it was from Lebanon because you could see the cedar tree seal on it.”

What is Hashish?

 

Hashish, also referred to simply as “hash,” is a cannabis concentrate that’s typically inhaled or smoked. Hashish can be made using a few different methods, but the essential steps are removing the trichome glands from a cannabis plant and repeatedly compressing the resin to form a hardened, solid piece. It’s arguably one of the oldest types of cannabis concentrates, with written texts referring to Hashish dating as far back as the 12th and 13th centuries. The varietable look and feel of Hashish is closely tied to its history and the method used to make it.

 

Sieved Hashish, originating from the Middle East and Central Asia, is made from resin powder that’s been collected from harvested and cured cannabis. Modern methods use fine mesh or silk fabrics to physically sift and separate the trichomes from the plant material. The mesh or fabrics used for sifting have varying pore sizes to help refine and purify the trichomes. The resulting powder, or kief, is then pressed and prepared as Hashish slabs or bricks, which can have a flat, hard, or sometimes chalky appearance.

What makes Hashish Different From Other Cannabis Concentrates?

 

Hashish is the O.G. of concentrates.

 

Aside from being the world’s oldest cannabis concentrate, Hashish is made of trichome glands, which house many of the beneficial compounds available in the cannabis plant. These active molecules — the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids of cannabis — work synergistically and are shown to have positive medical effects. Terpenes have also been shown to aid — even heighten — the effects of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids. In a 2011 study published by the British Journal of Pharmacology, Dr. Ethan B. Russo wrote about the entourage effect of cannabinoids and terpenes. Terpenes can really boost and amplify the cannabis experience, and lab studies have shown that flavonoids have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

 

Another standout quality of Hashish is that it’s a low-tech concentrate: it’s doesn’t require lab-grade equipment or solvents to safely produce.

 

Hashish can have a long shelf life. If stored properly, the dry resin powder that’s collected and used to make sieved Hashish can last for years. The rate of degradation increases once the kief has been pressed into a slab or bar. The structure of the trichome gland acts as a natural barrier to oxygen, moisture, and other factors that can degrade its potency and flavor.

How do You Use Hashish?

 

The most common way to use Hashish is to smoke it, either by itself or combined with flower. You may find references to eating it, but edibles provide much tastier options and are easier to dose than eating Hashish by itself. Hashish produces a thicker smoke than flower alone. Additionally, Hashish made with fresher resins makes you cough more than Hash made with aged resins, since aged resins have had more time to dry, allowing for moisture content and terpenes to evaporate from the trichome glands.

 

One of the simplest ways of using Hashish is a to add it to a bowl of flower in a bong, bubbler, or pipe to boost the potency and effects.

 

Hashish can be also be incorporated in a joint and smoked. (If you’re attempting this for the first time, it may be easier to avoid using a rolling machine.) Before adding any Hashish, first lay out your rolling paper and then add a layer of ground flower. Drier, chalkier Hashish can be crushed or cut up, and then sprinkled in the flower before it’s rolled.

 

Stickier, higher quality Hashish softens and is malleable when warmed. You can warm it up by rolling it gently in the palms of your hands. Form it into a thin serpentine shape, then place it on top of the flower. Slowly roll the joint and secure the edges. The rolled Hashish should now be secured in the center of your joint and surrounded by a layer of flower. The only steps left are to twist and light the end of your joint, then inhale from the opposite end.

 

Hashish can also be smoked on its own.

 

“Hot knifing,” taking “knife hits” or “knife tokes” refers to a smoking method where two metal knives, usually butter knives, are heated on a hot surface, like the coils of an electric range. The knives are placed on the hot surface until they are very hot or glowing a reddish color. A piece of Hashish is place on the heated part of a flat knife blade. The second knife is placed over the Hashish, which helps it steady the Hashish as well as increasing the rate of burn in order to yield more smoke. When the Hashish starts to smoke between the knife blades, the smoker holds a funnel-shaped instrument (such as a 2-liter soda bottle cut in half) to the mouth and places the wide end over the knives to capture as much smoke as possible while inhaling.

 

When smoking Hashish by itself in a pipe, it’s highly recommended to use a screen to prevent the smoldering piece of Hashish from entering the pipe and accidentally being inhaled. Screens can be a mesh style of either stainless steel or titanium, or a glass style that’s shaped like a flower or star. The screen is placed in the opening of the pipe’s bowl and a piece of Hashish is placed on top of the screen. Heat the Hashish with a lighter or hemp wick until you see a steady wisp of smoke emerge. Remove the heat and then inhale from the mouthpiece.

 

 

Dabbing is a popular method for using concentrates and extracts, and Hashish is no exception. Dabbing uses a particular type of water pipe called a dab rig (also referred to as an oil rig or simply “rig”). A flat-bottomed bowl, called a “nail,” is heated with a gas-powered torch to a temperature of about 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 176.66 to 204.44 degrees Celsius. Using a dab tool, drop a piece of Hashish onto the hot nail. Once you see steady wisps of smoke emerge, place a covering on the nail, commonly called a “carb cap”, to help capture the vapors and inhale through the mouthpiece of the dab rig.

The History of Hashish

 

The history of using cannabis for its anesthetic qualities can be traced as far back as the Neolithic period, approximately 4000 BC. The origins of Hashish are traced back to Persia (primarily Iran) and Central Asia (primarily Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan).

 

One of the earliest mentions of Hashish is in historical legends of the Nizari Ismailis, more commonly known as the Order of Assassins or the Hashishin Assassins. The Assassins, with strongholds in Persia and Syria, were a religious sect formed in the late 11th century, approximately 1090 AD. The name Assassins is “Hashâshīn” in Persian and “asāsīn” in Arabic. Legends exist that its founder, Hassan-e Sabbāh (also spelled as Hasan-i Sabbah), both consumed Hashish and provided it to his disciples to instill loyalty to the group. Scholars debate the validity of these tales, arguing that the word “Hashishin” is actually a misnomer. Hassan-e Sabbāh is said to have referred to his followers as “Asāsīyūn,” which means “people who are faithful to the foundation [of the faith].”

 

It’s believed the sect was incorrectly referred to as “Hashishin” in the Arabic sense, which means “users of Hashish.” It was said that the Assassins were described as being Hashish eaters and referred to as “Hashashin” in a derogatory way by rival sects, and these descriptions weren’t based in fact. Although no archaeological or written record provides clear evidence on whether the Assassins consumed Hashish as part of their traditions, the legend itself was written around 1210 AD by Arnold of Lübeck. The historical documentation of this legend in the early thirteenth century does link the geographic region of Persia with Hashish as well as providing descriptions of the cannabis concentrate and its effects.

 

In the 1998 book “Hashish!,” Robert Connell Clarke includes an excerpt about the story of Sheik Haidar (also spelled as Shayk Haydar or Heydar), as told by Hassan Mohammed ibn-Chirazi. Sheik Haidar was a 13th century Persian monk who practiced Sufism, or Islamic mysticism. Sheik Haidar founded a convent near Nyshabur, a city located in the modern-day Razavi Khorasan province of Iran, about 80 miles, or about 129 kilometers, from the Turkmenistan border and about 300 miles, or about 483 kilometers, from the Afghanistan border. Sheik Haidar spent over a decade in isolation and silence, meeting only with his servant. During this spiritual retreat, Sheik Haidar went on a walk and came across a patch of cannabis plants swaying gently in the extreme heat of the day.

 

Curious about the plants, Sheik Haidar gathered the leaves of one particular cannabis plant and began to eat them. When he returned to the convent from his walk, he was described as having a cheerful, easy disposition. He shared his discovery with other holy men, and was said thereafter to consume cannabis on a daily basis. In the 1979 book “The Great Book of Hashish, Vol. I Book I,” author Michael Aldrich argues that the effects described of Sheik Haidar are more accurately associated with consuming the resin of the cannabis plant, rather than its leaves, as fresh cannabis plant material has a greater proportion of raw cannabinoids (THCA) than the active cannabinoids (THC) that yield the intoxicating high.

 

Both the legend of the Assassins and Sheik Haidar provide a historical record that the use of Hashish was, at the very least, a known concept in Persia in the 13th century. The distribution and use of Hashish continued, with mentions of it appearing in historical documentation in other areas of the world.

 

Ibn al-Bayṭār, a 13th century scientist born in the modern-day province of Málaga, Spain, described an intoxicating substance from Egypt that he referred to as “hashishah.” In the following century, in 1378, a public notice announced that the act of consuming Hashish was prohibited by Soudoun Sheikhouni, an Ottoman emir in Egypt. In his edict, he issued the destruction of all cannabis plants, the imprisonment of anyone using Hashish as well as having their teeth removed by pulling.

 

In Egypt, the use of Hashish continued to gain in popularity to the end of its medieval period and throughout the period where it was an administrative division of the Ottoman Empire, despite prohibitive policies and harsh punishments by authorities.

 

Hashish consumption continued to expand. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, changes to production methods helped increase output and distribution as demand for Hashish grew.

 

In 1798, during the French occupation of Egypt, Brigadier General Napoléon Bonaparte decreed that cannabis and Hashish consumption be outlawed, as well as ordering the public burning of Hashish coming into the country. In his policy, he indicated that Hashish and cannabis use resulted in mental disturbance, overindulgent behavior, and interfering with rational thought. Although Bonaparte attempted to prevent the use of cannabis and Hashish in Egypt, his own French troops from the Armée d’Orient as well as a group of scientists, engineers, and artists from the Commission des Sciences et des Arts took Hashish back to France after serving in Egypt.

 

Le Club des Hashischins — also spelled “Club des Hashishins” or “Club des Hachichins,” which translates as the Club of Hashish-Eaters — formed in Paris in 1843. The group held monthly meetings at the Hôtel Pimodan, the modern-day Hôtel de Lauzun, to experiment with and explore the effects of Hashish, as there was an interest among the Club’s members about the possibility that Hashish could heighten their artistry and ingenuity. A number of its members were part of the Parisian intelligentsia, and included famed writers (Alexandre Dumas, Théophile Gautier, Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac), painters (Eugène Delacroix), as well as other members of Paris’ intellectual elite.

 

Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau, a psychiatric physician, was another notable member of the Club, writing the first publication by a medical doctor about the effects of a drug on the human nervous system. Moreau was greatly interested in learning about treating mental illnesses, and gained a lot of firsthand knowledge about Hashish from self-experimentation. His book, titled “Du Hachisch et de l’aliénation mentale—etudes psychologiques” (translated as “Hashish and Mental Illness—Psychological Studies”) was published in 1845, and received an honorable mention distinction from the French Academy of Sciences in 1946. The recognition of Dr. Moreau’s work helped substantiate and legitimize Hashish as well as explore its possibilities as a medical treatment in the scientific community.

Comparing and Contrasting Hashish and Charas

 

In the simplest definition, Hashish is a concentrate made from the removed trichomes of the cannabis plant. Sieved Hashish, specifically, uses the trichomes of dried and cured cannabis that’s been collected using a sieving process, then machine- or hand-pressed to create the final product.

 

Charas is the name of another cannabis concentrate that’s similar to Hashish, but with a number of fundamental differences. Charas, like sieved Hashish, uses the removed trichomes of the cannabis plant, but the trichomes aren’t sourced from dried and cured cannabis. The trichomes are typically sourced from fresh, living cannabis plants using a process called “hand-rubbing.”

 

Hand-rubbing is a process by which a person, using both hands, gathers cannabis resin to physically rub the budding stalks of fresh, mature plants. The cannabis stalks are repeatedly rubbed by the collector, which is very sticky and adheres easy to the hands. The hands are then rubbed together, with the cannabis resin being repeatedly rolled and pressed in the palms, creating a rounded, smooth and glossy appearance.

 

The hand-rubbing method isn’t as efficient as sieving. When the collectors rub the stalks, much of the resin is lost simply by falling to the ground, or sticks to clothing and other parts of the plant. Hand-rubbing is also a repetitive, manual process that demands a lot of time, physical energy, and endurance. Gram for gram, sieved Hashish requires far less time and energy to produce.

 

Additionally, rubbed Charas isn’t as potent as sieved Hashish and spoils faster. The rubbing motion of the hands breaks the leaves and small stems of the cannabis plant, which mixes moisture, plant material, and other impurities into the concentrate. The introduction of contaminants affects Charas’ shelf life and potency, as it degrades faster than sieved Hashish and can only be kept for about a month before it spoils. Sieved Hashish is simpler to produce, store, and transport, making it easier to distribute across greater distances, which is why it’s far more commonplace to find sieved Hashish than rubbed Charas.

 

That being said, rubbed Charas holds an important role in cannabis history and remains a key element in many traditions and cultures. Rubbed Charas is likely to have originated in South Asia, primarily in India and Nepal. It also has a loose association with Hinduism, specifically with the god Shiva (also spelled “Siva”), one of three principal Hindu deities.

 

In the Vedas, ancient texts dating as far back as 1500 BC, there is a legend that Shiva brought cannabis, or ganja, from the mountains of the Himalayas. Interpretations of the Vedas also say that on one particularly hot day, Shiva came across a field of cannabis plants growing tall, which gave him plenty of comfort and protection from the scorching sun. He was said to eat some of the leaves, which revived his energy and improved his disposition. After discovering cannabis and its positive effects, he henceforth considered it his favorite food. He’s sometimes referred to as the “Lord of Bhang” — bhang being a drink of blended milk, spices, and cannabis that’s still prepared and consumed in India today.

 

 

In Hindu culture today, traditions associated with cannabis and Charas continue to be practiced, although neither is currently a legal substance in India or Nepal. Mahashivratri, or Maha Shivaratri, is an annual Hindu festival celebrating Shiva and focuses on awakening from darkness to a place of peace, truth, and goodwill. The night before the start of the festival is referred to as “The Night of Shiva,” or “The Great Night of Shiva.” Through the entire duration of the night, Shaivites, or Saivites — those who regard Shiva as the Supreme Being — and Hindu alike, traditionally stay up and meditate, chant Vedic mantras, fast, and practice Yoga. The night also holds traditions of drinking bhang as well as smoking Charas and flower from a chillum — a straight smoking pipe made of clay, stone, or other material — in order to aid with meditation, prayer, and experiencing a heightened sense of connectedness.

 

Although rubbed Charas and sieved Hashish are different, they are two of the oldest cannabis concentrates in the world that share the same essential recipe: collecting and pressing the trichomes of cannabis for consumption.

Harvesting Hashish: How It’s Made Throughout the World

 

Being humankind’s oldest cannabis concentrate has allowed Hashish to develop in various ways by different cultures. The varying methods for resin collection and Hashish production are directly tied to geography, climate, and local resources.

 

The Lebanese Republic, or Lebanon, is located in the Middle East, bordering Syria and Israel. In the early 20th century, around the time of World War I, Lebanon began large-scale cultivation of cannabis and Hashish production. Despite its prohibition since 1946, farmers continue to maintain their cannabis fields and manufacture Hashish for export, sometimes resulting in deadly armed conflicts with local authorities and security forces. The greatest concentration of Hashish farms are located in the Beqaa, or Bekaa, Valley, near the ancient city of Baalbek.

 

Lebanon has a climate conducive to sieved Hashish production, with the coldest temperatures occurring in January, averaging about 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or 7.4 degrees Celsius, and the hottest temperatures occurring in August, averaging about 77.36 degrees Fahrenheit, or 25.2 degrees Celsius. The low humidity is better for collecting and storing the resin powder. Additionally, the annual rainfall is enough to support the cannabis farms without requiring costly irrigation. Lebanese Blonde Hashish and Lebanese Red Hashish are the two most common types of Hashish produced.

 

In the springtime, cannabis seeds are planted directly in the soil, receiving natural sunlight and rain. By mid-October, when the plants are ready for harvest, they’re cut by hand at the base near the roots. The harvested cannabis rests in the fields, drying in the sun for at least three days, then it’s collected, bundled, and  transported to warehouses for additional curing and preparation. Once cured, the stalks are placed in threshing machines that shred the dried cannabis stalks. Smaller-scale farms may also remove the buds by hand, with workers cutting or manually removing the most desirable parts of the plant from the branches and stalks over mesh screens, which help to catch any falling trichomes. Once the plant material is shredded and ground up, workers are then able to remove any excess leaves and seeds.

 

The threshed plant material is poured into a round dish with a mesh screen bottom. The dish is shaken vigorously over a concave pan, which collects any resin powder that falls out, leaving the undesirable plant material in the dish to be discarded. The resulting resin powder is then collected and sifted in three phases that will remove unwanted materials as well as help grade them for quality. The finer the resin powder, the higher its grade in quality. After the first round of sieving, the yield is sifted again and again, each time using mesh screens with smaller and smaller pore sizes. The resin powder that’s yielded by the sieving is again graded for quality. The grading will determine the product type it’ll ultimately become. Both Lebanon and Morocco sometimes export the resin powder as kief.

 

Once the resin powder has been successfully sieved and graded for quality, it can be stored — sometimes for years under the right conditions — until it’s ready for pressing. Lebanese Hashish typically comes in the form of large slabs. To produce the Hashish slabs, bags of cotton or linen are filled with a particular grade of resin powder. The bags of powder are then pressed using machinery, or by “bat-pressing” — using baseball bats, heavy planks, or large sticks to pound the resin powder into hardened slabs.

 

Even under the best storage conditions, the essential oils and moisture in trichome glands evaporate over time. As stored resin powder naturally loses some of its stickiness, it can be harder to press into a nice, cohesive form. To work around this, Lebanon Hashish manufacturers occasionally apply steam to bags of older resin powder to add back a necessary amount of moisture. After receiving a few minutes of steam, the bags of warmed, moistened resin powder are stacked and pressed into slabs.

 

The Kingdom of Morocco is located in North Africa, with Spain to the north, bordering Algeria and the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Large-scale commercial production of Hashish started in Morocco in the 1960s, though cannabis has a long history in Morocco. It’s likely to have been introduced to the country during the Arab Conquests, which started in the seventh century and came to a close in the 15th century. Despite Morocco’s long history with cannabis, it hasn’t been legal to grow, sell, or consume since 1956. Starting in 2009, a political shift — credited to the leadership of King Mohammed VI and his senior adviser, Fouad Ali El Himma —  has created an environment where political parties are discussing changes in cannabis policy, including the possibility of eventual legalization of cannabis cultivation, product manufacturing, and selling. Additionally, the social perception of cannabis is evolving, with negative connotations associated with cannabis gradually fading.

 

The greatest concentration of cannabis farms is located in the Rif Mountains, particularly around the city of Ketama. Compared with Lebanon, Morocco receives far less annual rainfall and has low humidity; farmers in the Rif Mountains have large holding tanks of water to help support the cannabis crops during their growing season. The climate is said to be similar to Southern California, with the coldest temperatures occurring in January, averaging about 49.64 degrees Fahrenheit, or 9.8 degrees Celsius, and the hottest temperatures occurring in August, averaging about 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 27 degrees Celsius. The average monthly temperatures are about the same or less than Lebanon. Sieved Moroccan Polm Hashish, which has a light-brown color in the form of a soap, and Moroccan Slate Hashish, with a bar-shaped form which ranges in color from a greenish to a sandy-brown color, are the most common types of Hashish produced in Morocco. Visitors to the area may be able to acquire hand-rubbed Hashish, referred to locally as “gomma” — balls of cannabis resin rubbed from the stalks of fresh plants before they’re harvested. Youngsters are said to sell gomma along the roadsides to tourists and visitors.

 

Cannabis resin is also used to prepare a traditional edible. Majoun, also spelled “majun,” is a Moroccan confection that blends kief, butter, chocolate, and honey with finely-chopped almonds, cashews, dates, walnuts, and other dried fruits. The mixture can served immediately, or refrigerated before being cut and served.

 

Cannabis farms are found throughout the Rif Mountains, with cannabis plants growing in the soil and receiving natural sunlight and rainfall. Cannabis planting starts in the springtime in March, with seasonal rains lasting until about June. Large tanks store extra water to help supplement the rainfall to irrigate the crops through the summer season. When the plants are harvested in September, they’re cut, cured, and dried for about a month. Morocco’s lack of humidity, especially in the winter months, can dry the plant material to a point where it’s quite brittle and easier for the undesirable parts, such as stems and leaves to fall through the pores of the sieving cloths. The optimal moisture level for producing high-quality Hashish allows for the plant material to avoid becoming too brittle, making it easier to separate from the trichomes during the sieving process. Hashish makers sometimes wait until weather conditions allow for optimum moisture and humidity levels before sieving.

 

To prepare for sieving, a large silk or nylon cloth is secured over the top of wide-mouthed basin. Using their hands, workers strip the buds and leaves from each branch. Some Moroccan Hashish makers perform additional grinding of the buds and leaves first, while others simple sieve the collected buds and leaves as-is without additional shredding or grinding. The plant material is portioned out and placed on top of the fabric. A nonporous cover is placed over the plant material and secured to prevent any resin powder from being lost.

 

Once everything is secured, a worker takes two long sticks, one in each hand, and performs a drumming motion, making direct hits on the top of the cover. This drumming technique creates vibrations which loosen the trichomes from the plant material, which eventually fall through the pores of the cloth and collect in the bottom of the basin. The drumming cadence differs for various levels of quality. The highest-quality resin powder is sieved with quick, rapid drum beats, whereas the lowest quality resin powder receives slow drum beats.

 

The length of time each batch of plant material is drummed depends on the amount of plant material being sieved. For example, two (2) pounds, or 0.91 kilograms, of cured plant material would receive about 10 minutes of drum time. Unlike Lebanese and Afghan methods — where cloths with varying pore sizes are used to separate and grade the resin powder — only one pore-sized cloth is used for sieving in Morocco. Like Lebanon, Morocco occasionally exports unpressed resin powder as kief. Yellow colored resin powder has a higher value than resin powder with a greenish color, which indicates a level of dilution with undesired plant material.

 

 

Hashish from Morocco is typically pressed by mechanical means rather than by hand. Hashish is commonly pressed using a “bat-pressing” technique where resin powder is secured in heavy-duty plastic bag. While the bag is flat on a table, a stick is inserted partway into the bag so it can be used to maneuver the bag, with the whole thing resembling an oversized lollipop. The contents of the bag is placed on a flat, sturdy surface and beaten repeatedly with bats or mallets. The bag is occasionally warmed by either fire or steam to help it created the final desired Hashish form. Technique may have been introduced to Morocco from those who brought Hashish from Afghanistan.

 

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is located in South Asia, bordering Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. In the late 1960s, Afghanistan was regarded as having the highest-quality sieved Hashish available in the world. The region surrounding the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Khulm, near the Uzbekistan border, is argued to be the source of the best Afghani Hashish. In 1973, the United States government provided millions of dollars in funding to Afghanistan to prohibit and eradicate the farming and any production of cannabis and the opium poppy. In that year, King Zahir Shah, the last monarch of Afghanistan, banned cannabis and the opium poppy. Although the king was dethroned that same year, Afghanistan’s prohibition had taken effect, deep enough to disrupt the existing cannabis farms, Hashish production and exports of the products. These activities remain illegal, but farmers of northern Afghanistan continue to grow and harvest cannabis and produce Hashish in order to support themselves and their families.

 

Afghanistan has an arid to semiarid desert climate, with its coldest temperatures reaching just below freezing, about 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or zero degrees Celsius, in January, and its highest temperatures peaking in July at about 77.54 degrees Fahrenheit, or 25.3 degrees Celsius. The dryness and low humidity throughout most of the year is conducive to collecting and storing resin used for Afghani Hashish.

 

Farmers plant their cannabis crops around March or April each year, when the land receives the  greatest amount of rainfall.

 

Hashish from Afghanistan is commonly referred to as simply “Afghani hash” or “Afghan hash.” The color is typically a dark brown or black on the outside, with a glossy appearance. Resin collection is a process similar to the one used in Lebanon; mesh cloths with varying pore sizes are used to sieve the resin powder and grade it for quality. Once sifted and graded, the resin powder is stored until its ready to be used for producing Hashish.

 

Afghani Hashish starts with 2 to 3 cups, or 256 to 384 grams, of loose resin powder. The resin powder is placed in the center of a metal plate with a deep lip to prevent spilling. Two to 4 tablespoons, or about 30 to 59 milliliters, of fresh water or tea is then poured in the center of the resin powder. The plate is then placed on a small stove top with an open flame lit with a medium-low flame. As the liquid heats and boils, it produces a steam that warms and binds the loose resin powder. After about ten seconds, the plate is taken off the burner and is allowed to cool for a few seconds. While it’s still warm, a person then balls the mixture by hand, and pulls it off the plate. Using both hands, the Hashish ball is kneaded like clay, then continually folded, pressed, and pulled by hand to form a small, flattened shape. It’s then placed directly on the burner’s flame to soften it. The process is continued, with the Hashish maker using the palms of both hands to fold, press, and pull the Hashish as it’s condensed and well formed. Through the process, the color of the resin powder changes from a light khaki or green to a dark molasses brown. The form is placed in the center of a circular mold, similar to an oversized cookie cutter, and wrapped in heavy plastic. Starting with just the heel of the foot, the Hashish maker digs the heel and presses the Hashish, then uses just the toes to evenly distribute the Hashish in the mold to create a consistent thickness throughout the form. The plastic is kept on the Hashish, and then heat-sealed for packaging.

 

The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is located in South Asia, bordering China and India. Hashish from Nepal is sometimes referred to as “Nepali hash” or “Nepalese hash.” Despite centuries of cultivation and farming, as well as having ties to Nepalese culture, the government of Nepal outlawed cannabis farming, Hashish production and distribution in 1973 — the same year Afghanistan prohibited cannabis — as a result of political pressure from the United Nations and the United States government. Today, like many other countries, despite its prohibition, cannabis is farmed — and even grows wild — throughout Nepal. It is also legal to consume cannabis during the annual observance of Mahashivratri, a Hindu festival celebrating Shiva. Tourists visiting the country are able to find and purchase ganja, or cannabis flower, and Nepalese Hashish quite easily, especially in popular tourist areas such as Kathmandu, the capital and the nation’s largest city.

 

The Himalayan mountain range runs through the country of Nepal. Based on altitude, the climate can vary quite a bit. Nepal has more than four seasons; there is a monsoon season that occurs after summer and before autumn. Nepal receives the greatest amount of rainfall during the months of June, July, August, and September; Morocco, Lebanon, and Afghanistan receive the least amount of rain during that time. The abundant rainfall means Nepalese cannabis farmers don’t have to prepare for dry spells or implement irrigation solutions. In lower-altitude areas, Nepal has a mild climate, with its coldest temperatures reaching an average of 38.12 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3.4 degrees Celsius, in January, and its hottest temperatures reaching an average of 65.48 degrees Fahrenheit, or 18.6 degrees Celsius, in July. The monsoon season and rainfall rates makes Nepal a poor location for sieved Hashish. Unlike desert and Mediterranean climates, in Nepal the humidity and moisture in the air makes it hard to dry and separate resin powder. Producing hand-rubbed Charas is easier in Nepal’s climate, as the trichomes and resin bind to hands better when the air is slightly humid.

 

With abundant rainfalls, Nepal typically has two cannabis harvests. The first harvest occurs in June and July; the second harvest occurs in October, November, and December. The first harvest yields plants that grow to about 4 to 5 feet, or about 1.2 to 1.5 meters, whereas the plants from the second harvest enjoy the summer and monsoon seasons and can grow taller than 20 feet, or more than 6 meters.

 

The majority of Hashish produced in Nepal involves hand-rubbing resin from live, green cannabis plants, as opposed to producing a brick or slab of Hashish by pressing sieved resin power that’s been collected from dried and cured cannabis.

 

Like sieved Hashish, Charas is made from the trichomes of the cannabis plant, but the trichomes are collected by hand from fresh cannabis plants. Using both hands, a person will gently rub a fresh cannabis stalk between their palms. Nepal is said to be the source for some the world’s most potent hand-rubbed Charas — think deep couch-lock.

 

The continuous rubbing motion of the resin between the palms creates a rounded, shiny, and smooth appearance. The humidity of Nepal’s climate naturally yields a texture that’s sticky, soft, and moist — much like a fudge brownie. If it’s been pressed, it’s typically pressed by hand rather than using a machine or bat-pressing.

 

Nepalese Charas is made using fresh, live cannabis plants. A Charas maker locates a mature stalk full of frosty flower buds and plucks larger fan leaves from the stalk. Then, starting at the base of a stalk, vigorously rubs the stalk buds between the palms using both hands. The sticky trichomes naturally stick to the skin and hands, forming a thin resinous coating. The process is repeated, with the resin building thicker and thicker layers. Hand-rubbing takes longer and is less efficient than sieving; even with a full, mature cannabis stalk, about 30 minutes of rubbing yields a Charas ball about one-third of an inch (0.33”), or about 0.85 centimeters, in diameter. To prevent spoilage, Charas is tightly wrapped and sealed in plastic and stored in cool, dry places to retain as much of the aromas, flavors, and effects of the live plant as possible.

 

Sources

Booth, Martin. Cannabis: A History. Random House, 2011.

Clarke, Robert Connell. Hashish!. Los Angeles: Red Eye Press, Inc., 1998.

Clarke, Robert Connell and Mark D. Merlin. Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.

Golstein, Bonni. Cannabis Revealed: How the World’s Most Misunderstood Plant Is Healing Everything from Chronic Pain to Epilepsy, 2016.