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 two hot knives. It is also added to cookies or other food and simply ingested. 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 glandular hairs containing plant resins which appear on the leaves and stems of the Cannabis plant.
According to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica the word assassin derives from the Arabic word (haššāšīn), or Hashshashin, an Islamic sect of militants founded by Hasan-i Sabbah who supposedly were avid hash-eaters. This is also the view expressed by Charles Baudelaire in his Artificial Paradises in 1857. There are many who disagree, and this has since been determined to be anti-cannabis propaganda with little or no basis in fact. But the effect of cannabis is largely dependent on the state of mind of the consumer and that may be totally different in a different time and culture. 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. Furthermore, if one wishes hashish to have the effect of becoming aggressive then it may very well have that effect.
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, 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; however, it is easier to overdo the dosing with more potent material. Higher-THC material is healthier to consume, as less tars and particulates are absorbed from fewer inhalations that result in the same high.
Hash is made from tetrahydrocannabinol-rich glandular hairs known as trichomes as well as various amounts of Cannabis flower and leaf fragments. The resin reservoirs of the trichomes (erroneously known as pollen) are separated from the plant via various sieving methods, cold-water separations, or chemical extraction. The resulting concentrate is compressed into blocks of hashish 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, or mixed with tobacco to make joints and smoked in hookahs or Sibsi (Sebse) pipes. As THC is fat-soluble, it is also possible to dissolve hashish in butter, and use it for cooking (see Hash cookies and Alice B. Toklas brownie). 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.
In Morocco approximately 800,000 people of the countrys 32 million are involved with cannabis cultivation. Its market is comprised almost entirely of Europe, Algeria and Tunisia, with only a small fraction seeming to reach the U.S..  About 80% of the hashish seized in France every year comes from Morocco.
Black hash, which is hand-rubbed directly off the Cannabis plant, 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 (sinsemilla), a process which requires the skill 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 greenhouse.
Availability and Quality
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. Reasons for this include the fact that hashish is much more compact, and thus much easier to smuggle than marijuana, and also that countries exporting to Europe have a long tradition of making hashish for storage, quality and export. The expansion in the market for marijuana in Europe is also happening because dealers in certain countries have started offering almost exclusively extremely adulterated hash (soap bar). With marijuana, it is easier to see what you get, although some people try to adulterate or modify it, too, usually with less success than with the soap bar. Consumers are becoming conscious of this, too, and are rapidly avoiding dealers that sell this product. In a worst-case scenario, some European consumers become so accustomed to soap bar, that they erroneously believe that is what they are supposed to get.
Blocks of 100, 125, 200 and 250 grams of hash are common. Unscrupulous hashish dealers sometimes repowder the hashish, mix it with a foreign materials such as soap, or boot wax, and re-press the mixture 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. It is not only a rip-off, but can also be dangerous to peoples health if plastic or other doubtful agents are used. Sometimes low-quality marijuana leaf is used to dilute the hashish in a more natural way in origin countries, producing a low quality hash that is still natural and does not contain any chemicals. Other suspected dilutants include 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 without verification. 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 (although some hashish, usually Moroccan, of considerable potency may also be found in hard form). 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 reliable methods of testing the quality of hashish are through chemical testing or consumption.
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