Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Hashish (often shortened to hash, and also referred to by countless slang terms such as dope) is a psychoactive drug derived from the cannabis plant. It is usually smoked in joints or pipes but can also be pressed between 2 hot knives or added to cookies or other food. It is used for its relaxing and mind-altering effects. Many people claim that using it gives them great insights.
Hashish is comprised of the compressed trichomes collected from the leaves and flowers of a mature, flowering cannabis plant. Certain strains of cannabis are cultivated specifically for their ability to produce large quantities of trichomes, and are thus called hash plants. Trichomes are small globs of dried plant resins which collect on the leaves and stems of the cannabis plant.
According to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica the word assassin derives from the Arabic word حشّاشين (haššāšīn), or Hashshashin, an Islamic sect of militants who supposedly were avid hash-eaters. Those that disagree say the effects the Hashshashin reported are not generally experienced by people who consume hash . In The Book Of Breeething, William Burroughs speculates that severe winter conditions at their mountain fortress, Alamut, and extreme asceticism could have potentiated the experience. Intense cold and a lack of hearths, a sparse diet, and exhaustive labor in combination with the drug could have induced visions, he claims.
The THC content of hashish that reached the United States, where supply is limited, averaged 6 percent in the 1990s. The marijuana at the CannaTrade 2002 had THC levels ranging between 8 percent and 28 percent; the latter is comparable to some grades of hashish. Note that higher levels of THC do not necessarily imply higher levels of THC consumption, as users will frequently self-titrate (at least when smoking or using a vapouriser), consuming only the vapor until the desired effect is reached; it is easier to overdo with more potent material. Higher-THC material is healthier to consume, since fewer tars and particulates are inhaled to get the same high.
The UN says that 80% of hash consumed in the world comes from Morocco. From Chefchaoun to Al Houcima, passing by Ketama, Bab Berred, Bab Taza, Stihat, almost all planted lands are dedicated for hash.
Hash is made from tetrahydrocannabinol-rich resinous bulbs known as trichomes as well as other minute plant material from the flowers and leafs of the cannabis plant. The oily matter is separated from the plant via various sieving methods, cold-water extraction, or chemical extraction. The resulting plant material is known as kif (aka keif). The kif is compressed into blocks which are easily stored and transported, without degrading the THC content due to oxidation. Pieces are then broken off, warmed up and smoked in bongs, pipes, joints (mixed with tobacco), hookahs or Sibsi (Sebse) pipes. Since THC is fat-soluble, it is also possible to dissolve hashish in butter, and use it for cooking. The Middle East and North Africa and in particular Morocco and Afghanistan are the main sources of hashish, although the science of hash extraction and the rapid dissemination of this knowledge means that more people are making hashish for personal use, using readily available materials or custom built devices such as Bubble Bags.
Black hash, which is generally produced in Nepal, Afghanistan, and India, generally produces a more relaxing, mellow effect. Blonde hash, often from Morocco and the Netherlands, tends to produce more active and cerebral highs. Green and red hues are also seen. A green tinge may indicate that the hashish has been cut with low quality leaf or contains high quantities of chlorophyll, which creates a harsher smoke. High quality hashish is derived from a batch of unpollinated female flowers (sensemillia), a process which requires the skills and means to at least separate the female from the male plants before they reach sexual maturity, or more efficiently, to make clones of a particularly potent female. This method rules out sowing seeds in a field in the traditional manner, requiring a controlled environment such as a green-house.
There are two products that come from kif. First kif is a tiny green powder that is sometimes mixed with tobacco and smoked in Sibsi pipes. After the cannabis is harvested, it is grouped into stacks of 20 to 30 plants and is left to dry for a month in a dry environment, typically an underground room covered with plastic. To make kif, the plants are cleaned of all dirt and only the white little crystals holding at the edge of each leaf are kept using a knife. This cleaning process takes time and requires precision, as the kif crystals are very small.
To make hash, the stacks of kif are placed within two very thin tissues on top of a container. The tissues are hit so that the pollen falls into the container. What falls in is put into a plastic bag and warmed with friction against a jean (most of the time) until the powder becomes solid. It is in this process of hitting that quality of hash is determined. The more the kif is hit, the more pollen falls in the container, the more quantity the producer gets, the less quality the consumer smokes, so the producer decides on how much he wants to get from his stacks. There are different qualities from the same initial stacks. The ZeroZero (or Tbissla as Moroccan call it), the very best quality of hash, is made with one single hit on every stack, so the producer will pass all the stacks, hit once, drop them on the other side, collect the first quality choice, then repeat the process to get the second quality, etc.
Hashish is widely available in Europe, as opposed to marijuana which is more sparsely available on the whole, although recent reports suggest a rapidly expanding 'home-grown' supply chain. This is probably because hashish is much more compact, and thus much easier to smuggle than Marijuana. Blocks of 100, 125, 200 and 250 grams of hash are common. Unscrupulous hashish dealers sometimes dissolve the hashish, mix with a foreign material without psychoactive or intoxicating properties such as soap, boot wax, animal dung, and re-press into a hashish block, which is sold as if it was the pure product. This is sometimes known as Soap bar, due to the fact that it is packaged in 250 gram blocks that resemble the shape of a bar of soap. Other commonly suspected dilutants are camel dung and sand. Rumours of hashish being mixed or laced with potent and dangerous intoxicants such as opiates and PCP are quite common, but verified reports of this are unseen. Opiates and PCP are generally more expensive than the hashish they are supposedly mixed with.
Pure, properly stored hashish of premium quality is soft and moldable by the heat of the fingers alone. Old, improperly stored hashish of poor quality is rock hard and brittle, and has to be heated substantially before it becomes soft enough for use. Most hashish falls in between these two extremes, and the tactile qualities also vary according to the methods used in extraction and pressing.
The only sure fire methods of testing the quality of hashish are through chemical testing or through consumption.
- Club des Hashischins A club in Paris in the 1840's, dedicated to explore the effect of drugs, specifically hashish.
- Les paradis artificiels by Charles Baudelaire, a member of the club mentioned above, describing effects of opium and hashish.
- Fitz Hugh Ludlow. Wrote the autobiographical The Hasheesh Eater in 1857.
- Hashish by Robert Connell Clarke, ISBN 0929349059. A popular book according to amazon.com.
- Artificial Paradises by Charles Baudelaire; first edition 1860.
- The Hasheesh Eater by Fitz Hugh Ludlow; first edition 1857.
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