Saturday, November 1, 2014

Peak: A Denver Cannabis Shop for Adult Use Consumers - Legal Marijuana Retail Sales w/ MMJ Sales

Peak: A medical and 'Adult Use Market' store in Denver, CO
Peak MJ
260 Broadway
Denver, CO 80203

The Stoner Living field team stumbled upon Peak while strolling down Broadway through the mix of vintage clothing stores, tattoo parlors, cafes and used book stores. Their door had a small, slightly abstracted green cross logo and text saying they were now offering non-medical marijuana sales.

Although Peak opened as a medical marijuana dispensary in early 2014, this was their first week participating in the 'recreational' - or as they like to call it in Colorado, the 'Adult Use Market'. The laws in Colorado are different for 'medical' marijuana patients (sometimes called MMJ) versus 'Adult Use' marijuana consumers - allowing more potent serving sizes, larger quantities and lower tax rates for 'medical' users.

Stoner Living- Grape Ape from Kindman at Peak Recreational Denver
Kindman Brand Cannabis - 1g of 'Grape Ape'
At Peak, unlike some of the other marijuana stores we visited, it was easy to tell which products were intended for 'Adult Use' (ie - the 'non MMJ' products out-of-staters are eligible to purchase.) After a standard ID check to verify that we were over the age of 21 we were allowed into a spacious back room with display cases with boxed marijuana ready to go in single gram or 1/8 oz packages. There were extracts, concentrates, candies, medical salves and suckers. There was a separate counter for in-state medical marijuana patients.

The well lit environs kept any creepy adult video store vibes at bay. It was clean and smelled nice. Our budtender Jon, the General Manager, was extremely helpful in product selection and was helpful all around. Most of the pre-packaged flower in their display cabinets came from the brand 'Kindman'.

Child Proof Packaging for Kindman's Retail
Child Proofing - It's Not the Budtender's Fault
Due to legislation based on child-safety paranoia, child-safe, tamper-proof packaging is required. The 1g of Grape Ape flower came in a small pill bottle with wadded up paper to fill the excess space and keep the flower from rattling around. On the up side, the paper looked like it could be used as rolling paper in a pinch. This was sealed with a tamper-evident seal and a child-proof lid. This was then placed into a box which was neatly stacked up in jewelers display cabinets for sale.

There are nice glass "presentation" jars where the consumer can smell (but not touch) the flowers. But buyer beware - what you see is not necessarily what you get. All of the flowers in the "presentation" jars looked like the top colas (ie - the prime pieces) from each plant.

Opaque packaging does provide optimal product protection, but  it prevents the consumer from seeing what they are purchasing. The reality of what any particular boxed gram or 1/8 oz. (3.5g) package can vary and may be completely non representative of what was in the "presentation" jars. The classic bait-and-switch.

Bait & Switch? Or should I just be happy to have retail cannabis available?
After browsing for a while, my consideration set included a nice looking hybrid called the Spirit of 76, but I ended up going with Grape Ape which a friend said he once sampled and it was like a 'party in your mouth'. Legendary stories tell of a strain with concord grape juice super-grape flavor. The Grape Ape did have some classic purple flavor reminiscent of other classic purple strains like Grandaddy Purple, Purple Urkle, The Purp.

At this point I should have inquired about the large glass jars of cannabis sitting deli style behind the counter, but I was only buying one gram - and we were chatting up the bud-tender about the cannabis conference we were attending and he was offering us Kindman at a discounted price of $20 for a gram - including all taxes (which are substantial and vary by locality).

Stoner Living Blog's review of Kindman's Grape Ape
Here's What 20$ of Retail Legal Cannabis Looks Like in Denver, Colorado
Maybe my expectations were too high - the Grape Ape didn't have the magic I was hoping for in a $20 gram of cannabis. 

But I shouldn't complain. After all, I just flew into a new city and purchased cannabis at a clean, safe and downright pleasant retail store. 

If you are interested in cannabis, are over the age of 21 and are in the Denver area, you may visit Peak's retail location at the address below:

Peak MJ
260 Broadway
Denver, CO 80203

Note: Peak MJ is in no way associated with Stoner Living Blog and does not endorse or have anything to do with the content of this blog or this article.

(C) 2014 Stoner Living

Thursday, October 30, 2014

National Cannabis Industry Association Meeting - Denver

The Infused Product and Extraction Symposium
Denver, Colorado
October 27-29, 2014

NCIA Infused Product & Extraction Symposium Meeting, October 27-29, 2014, Denver CO
The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) held a 2 day workshop, symposium and vendor fair in Denber, Colorado - America's poster child for the somewhat successful launch of the legitimate legal cannabis industry. The NCIA is the legal Cannabis Trade Association its meetings are eerily similar to any other trade meetings - for instance, the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting and trade show I attend annually to stay in contact with graduate school and professional friends.

Colorado legitimized medical cannabis and quite a robust industry including flowers, edible products and extracts blossomed in Colorado. Colorado's approach to legitimizing the recreational side of the market was to give the exiting medical cannabis industry the first chance at licenses under the new recreational system.

NCIA Symposium Registration - Just like any other trade show
Differences in 'medical' versus 'recreational' in Colorado have implications beyond taxation (which are severe). New emergency legislation has capped the extracted/edible serving size of THC at 10 mg per serving. Many 'medical' products have deliver in the 50mg - 100 mg/serving size.This led to a flurry of products such as the Dixie Elixer one series of ultra-low dose products intended for the legal recreational marktet.
 Editors note: future articles will cover the product development and marking implications of the new emergency regulations in Colradao. 

The vendor fair was filled with a mixture of extraction product makers (like Apecks and Eden Labs, product manufacturers (like Dixie Brands) and so many more. Many entrepreneurs were swapping business cards and discussing opportunities and shared interests. Apeks supercritical CO2 extraction systems had a good booth with knowledgeable sales people and relevant samples of processed samples made from hops (the only member of the family Cannabaceae other than Cannabis).

The tour of the Dixie Elixers processing facility was full, but I hear it is like a brew-pub set up where product can be observed during processing from behind a sanintary glass wall. 

The "Science and Sale of Extraction" workshop on Wednesday was disappointingly low on science, but did instill the sense of a need for a disciplined but fun corporate structure approach for the nascent cannabis industry. The representatives from O-Pen Vape who led the symposium avoided all technical questions and at one point said he had "nothing to say" about terpenes or "temperature + pressures" during processing. Unfortunately, this is what I specifically came to Denver to learn, So I was disappointed.

Fortunately  I am in the process of reviewing a surprisingly thorough treatment of extracted products from Ed Rosenthal - perhaps my upcoming review of his newest effort will provide uerful rules of thumb for use of these ever-more-popular formats of cannabis. His treatise will provide an invaluable guide for people who were seeking the kind of information I went to this conference seeking.

I took advantage of time between sessions to go on a 'market walk' of the new recreational stores available to out of town visitors. Although I am a medical patient in the state of Washignton, Coloroda does not have any reciprocity program. Each retail store visited will be discussed in future articles
Frosted Leaf - A VERY high-end cannabis retail store with well graded, quality merchandise!

 Editors note: future articles will cover the specific consumer experience of each of the retail cannabis stores in Denver that we had the opportunity to visit. 

I enjoyed the event and especially enjoyed to opportunity to meet fellow cannabis entrepreneurs from all over. Any attendees of the NCIA event want to weigh in? Please keep us posted.

Please stay in touch and follow me here -

(C) 2014 Stoner Living Blog


Monday, September 8, 2014

"QuickStiQ" - an Affordable, Simpler Way to Dab Hash Oil / BHO & Other Cannabis Extracts - Product Review

QuickStiQ Hash Pipe for Dabbing BHO
The QuickStiQ Hash Oil Pipe
The QuickStiQ is a nifty glass pipe design that simplifies the 'dabbing' process. Any number of cannabis extracts can be vaporized using the QuickStiQ - BHO, shatter, wax and even traditional hash.

As a connoisseur of cannabis in its many guises, I am a fan of well prepared extracts and the increasingly intricate devices used to enjoy them. But doing 'dabs' of hash oil - with the requisite glassware, blowtorch, 'nail' and dab-stick, is so complicated it can detract from the relaxation of the hash experience.

'Dabs' are tiny amounts of highly concentrated cannabis extract which are vaporized (not burned). The active ingredients are turned into a vapor which is inhaled and enjoyed - all without burning anything. Nothing is burned - so nothing is smoked - which is why 'dabbing' can occur indoors, at dispensaries and such, while outright smoking is generally prohibited.
How to use the QuickStiQ hash oil rig from Peoples Champz
QuickStiQ - Available from Peoplez Champz, NW Cannabis Market
How It Works:
The QuickStiQ is heated with a butane cigar lighter (or small blow torch) for about 5 seconds until hot. The glowing hot end of the QuickStiQ is then dabbed into the heat-proof Oil Slick container holding the cannabis extract. This is done quickly and gently - and the resulting vapor/smoke is inhaled through the mouth-end of the QuickStiQ.

The double bubble s-trap design protects against melted extract migrating into the mouth of the unsuspecting consumer.

The Oil Slick container is made with medical grade silicone that will not stick to the ooey-gooey gunky texture of even the stickiest hash oil extracts.
Oil Slick BHO container
Oil Slick Container

Our Experience:
Learning the correct timing and technique of heating the end of the QuickStiQ took a little practice - and getting the temperature correct is vital for a consistent experience with extracts. The end result of this was that the same extract could taste floral and inhale smoothly at one temperature and be generally disagreeable at other temperatures (see note below).

A few dabs of the BHO extracts we sampled with the QuickStiQ were sufficiently potent for even the most medicated members of our tasting group. Smoking high quality marijuana is like drinking beer or wine - but doing dabs is more like doing shots. With up to 3x the concentration of active ingredients, these hash oil extracts pack a punch.

The glassware and especially the required blowtorch style lighter was off-putting to some members of our tasting group who likened the whole experience to smoking crack cocaine. Others disagreed, and pointed to the decorative colored designs on the side of the QuickStiQ.

How to Dab Hash Oil with a Pipe - the QuickStiQ
Heating the QuickStiQ with Mini Blow Torch
A Note on Dabbing & Vaporizing Temperature:
Regardless of whether you are using a vape pen, a traditional dab set-up with nail, a vaporizer like the Volcano (R) or a QuickStiQ - the temperature of whatever is vaporizing the cannabis extract is of vital importance. Temperature will impact not only flavor and smoking quality (ie - harshness) but will impact the subjective quality of the 'high' by changing the chemistry of some of the numerous cannabinoid compounds in the cannabis extract.

THC vaporization temperature: ~ 365 degrees F (185 C).
Tip: a plausible range to aim for with the QuickStiQ is ~350-390 F
THC combustion temperature: ~445 degrees F [Anything higher and you are just smoking a pipe]

Overall, the QuickStiQ is an innovative way to enjoy the increasingly broad array of cannabis extracts with minimal investment, good portability and functionality. Hash Oil Rigs can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. This well designed product delivers an experience similar to far more complex (and expensive) systems.

The downside of the QuickStiQ is, well, the blowtorch. But as dabbing has gained popularity, an array of specialty style blow-torch lighters are widely available.

The QuickStiQ is available in a variety of colors from the Peoplez Champz booth at the Galaxy NW Cannabis Market. Note that NWCM is a medical marijuana access point that requires all visitors to be current Washington State Authorized Medical Marijuana patients.

(C) 2014 Stoner Living Blog

Monday, June 16, 2014

Vaping & Hash Oil Pens - Are Weed Smokers the Tobacco Chewers of the Future?

What will the North American cannabis market look like in 2050? Joints packed up like cigarettes? Here at Stoner Living, we doubt it. We love the completely natural aspect of marijuana, and the virtually non-existent processing. Some cannabis devotees will surely stick with tradition and demand minimally processed flowers for smoking, but that probably won't dominate the market.

XL Vape Cartridges - visible (left) and 'stealth' (right)
A standardization-friendly, non-smoked version of weed seems most likely to reign supreme by the time cannabis is sold like cigarettes. To control dosage and minimize the number of producers (the US has 3 major tobacco companies right now - and two are talking about merging), a highly standardized, expensive to start up system is what the mature marijuana industry will look like.

Future cannabis connoisseurs who are non-cigarette smokers will be likely to enjoy 'vaping' their cannabis, and will be a lot less likely to fall into the "nothing works like smoking my bong/pipe/blunt" group. I understand the sentiment of this group, as I fall into it myself. But product development is driven by the wants and needs of the young - few market research agents include participants over the age of 36 in their research unless they have a demographic specific reason to do so. It's one of Marketing's dirty little secrets.

XLVape w/ Visible Cartridge
As I discussed in an earlier article, vape pens "fix" a lot of the problems consumer's have with cannabis- - no smoke, no smell, no lingering odor. The trade off is that the vape pen experience is not exactly the same - and for many, it is not as satisfying.

It's no big secret: smoking is bad for you, is increasingly taboo and it is a dying part of our culture. But it is a legal part of our culture, and despite cigarette volume declines, cigarettes will never completely go away.
Joint 10 Pack from Urban Roots Collective
Smoking is the norm for marijuana these days. And many pot smokers also smoke cigarettes. But that doesn't mean it will always be that way. Think about tobacco: first it was smoked in pipes, then rolled in tobacco leaves and smoked, and it is chewed in a variety of cultures.

Tennessee Twist
Trends wax and wane but few (if any) habits truly go away. Nasal snuff is nasty stuff, but it is still manufactured and sold. And there is a stronghold of Tennessee twist tobacco users, mostly old holdouts from the tobacco growing regions down where Tennesee meets the North Carolina.Today's joint smoking pot farmers from Cascadia may be doomed to be tomorrow's Tennessee twist holdouts.

Here in the United States, smoking was originally promoted by public health campaigns due to the risk of typhoid and other spit borne diseases that were so deadly in the early 1900s. When cigarette filters were introduced in the 50s, one of the first was the Kent Micronite filter, made from Asbestos.

So let's proceed with caution as we march into the future of legal marijuana. It would be wise to learn some lessons from the tobacco industry. Better yet, the nascent world of legal marijuana  could develop a marketing model that would put consumer 'wellbeing' paramount to profit. 

(c) 2014 Stoner Living Blog

Monday, June 9, 2014

Peoples Champz Pecan Pie from NW Cannabis Market - Product Review w/ Wine Pairings

One of the highlights of any trip to the NW Cannabis Market is visiting The Champ, at his
Peoples Champz booth located right inside the front door. The Champ offers a variety of medible alternatives including juice, medicated chocolates from Canna Girl and more.

Peoples Champz Edibles offer flowers too - at amazingly discounted prices given the quantity. And it's rumored that these guys are behind the legendary Illmatic strain.

Peoples Champz Edibles - Medicated Pecan Pie

These are a classic Southern rendition of pecan pie with crispy crust, candied pecans and that gooey filling holding it all together. The cannabis flavor was unmistakably present to the initiated, but not in a bad way. Medibles should have a distinguishable cannabis flavor, primarily for safety's sake - but they must be tasty too.

These single servings are the right size - but don't be tempted to double up because they are so delicious. And these pies are exquisitely tasty, but psychoactive.

Pecan Pies as Medicine
My sweetie is recovering from shoulder surgery. The surgeon gave him a script for oxycodone - which was particularly good when the nerve blocker pump ran out - but medical marijuana is allowing him to use a surprisingly small amount of pain medicine. Rest and recuperation is imperative after surgery, so medical marijuana like these Peoples Champz pecan pies are perfect. Medibles are particularly useful for highly active patients who may otherwise resist medical orders for rest & recuperation.

The Champ's Blackberry Flowers
But I'm Not Sick - How Can I Enjoy These Pies?
In the future, we hope the WSLCB will figure out how to integrate existing legitimate enterprises like Peoples Champz into the new recreational model and these top-notch pies could be available outside of the medical market. Until then, WA medical marijuana patients should be aware of significant impending changes which could make things very ugly about a year from now.

But let's assume everyone decides to get along - how would a marijuana infused pie like this fit into the culinary landscape?

The Champ's pies are a perfect choice to accompany a holiday meal complete with turkey and all the trimmings. Or these pies could make a simple Sunday dinner special. Just be sure to designate drivers and make sure nobody nods off into the collards.

It's easy to pair medicated pecan pies like these with wine for a special event. We recommend muscat or an ice-wine for marijuana aficionados seeking something sweeter. A dry sparkling choice like a Procecco would provide an interesting texture contrast; for a sweeter bubbly, pair with an Asti. Calvados, a brandy, is the choice for those seeking to impress or just looking for something harder.

The Champ can be found at the Rainier 'Galaxy' medical marijuana farmers market.

(c) 2014 Stoner Living Blog

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Post Surgical Cartoons from (Right Handed) Artist

Bed Buds (2014) by Hubba Hubba 

(from the left hand cartoons from bed series


Beloved Seattle tattoo artist Hubba Hubba, is laid up after rotator cuff shoulder surgery but staying busy with a series of left-handed gems that are delightful! More can be found HERE on his Facebook page. This one is for Seattle Smokers:

Bed Buds (c) 2014 Hubba Hubba

Due to positive response, Hubba has plans for prints or a small graphic novel, Stay tuned on his Facebook Page where you will also be treated to his prolific, demented yet delightful artworks.

(c) 2014 Stoner Living Blog, artwork (c) Hubba Hubba

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

RIP Dr. Alexander 'Sasha' Shulgin - Chemist, Husband & Inspiration

Dr. Alexander Shulgin, the man considered by many to be the 'Godfather of Psychedelics' died June 2nd, 2014.
Sasha Shulgin - inspiration to many
Alexander 'Sasha' Shulgin (image from Wikipedia)
The world lost one of our best when Dr. Alexander 'Sasha' Shulgin died at home in his bed, surrounded by friends and family. Best known for discovering, synthesizing and personally testing 230+ psychoactive compounds. PIHKAL, written with his wife Ann, chronicles the explorations as their extended circle evaluated the potential of a variety of compounds.

Shulgin is widely credited with bringing MDMA and related compounds to the attention of psychologists in the 1970s. But the most enticing of his work is his exploration of the 2C* family of compounds, his experiences with which are widely detailed in PIHKAL.

Shulgin was a humanitarian, and the love story detailed in PIHKAL describes the type of relationship anyone would be lucky to experience. I'm skeptical about 'soul mates', but the enduring partnership of Ann & Sasha is a love story for the ages. Our love and support go out to his widow, Ann.

For anybody interested, PIHKAL is a phenomenal read, even for non-chemists. Chemists will appreciate the second half of the book, which is a distillation of his lab notebooks. Just don't let the po-po find this book next to your collection of lab glass.

Safe travels, Sasha. Your spirit will live forever in the hearts and works of those you inspired.

(c) 2014 Stoner Living Blog

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Stoner Living Theme Video

Feast your ears and eyes on the Stoner Living Blog Theme

Written with much love, this blog is probably the best way for your midwestern grandparents learn about the world of legal weed culture before their next trip to visit you in Seattle or Denver.

Coming from a scientific yet slightly twisted background, The Stoner Living Blog is designed for marijuana connoisseurs and the curious alike.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hash Oil Pens - Toke the Future

Welcome to hash oil in 2014: pen shaped vaporizers for cannabis oil that look like an e-cigarette and are virtually odorless, making them usable almost anywhere. They are so easy to use - perhaps too easy.  Although the vape pen does not deliver the full satisfaction of a lit-end product, it represents a new way to enjoy cannabis without smoking or risking the perils of eating it.

O-Pen Vape Cartridge on an XL-Vape 'Pen'
As of 2014, only about 18% of Americans use cigarettes. Smoking is increasingly taboo. The quality of medical grade marijuana varies widely, with smoking characteristics ranging from smooth and full, to hot and hack-cough inducing. A vaporized product that isn't burnt is less likely to leave the unwitting cannabis consumer 'coughing up a lung'.

Smoking weed or doing hash oil dabs is not discreet. Marijuana smoke has an unmistakable aroma profile which is described as 'skunky' and 'dank'. Dabs often entail the use of a blow torch.

O-Pen vape CO2 cartridge - sativa - lemon diesel   
O-Pen Vape Sativa Cartridge (Front)
From a consumer's perspective, these hash oil pens "fix" a lot of the problems associated with smoking marijuana - no smoke, no smell, no lingering odor. The trade off is that the vape pen experience is not exactly the same - and for many, it is not as satisfying.

Cartridges and the vape pen systems are available many places where legal marijuana is sold. I needed a new charger for an O-Pen vape pen, so I went to my neighborhood dispensary. They didn't have chargers, but they had the XLVape system - a 'vape pen' and USB charger for $20. I was delighted to discover the cartridges and charger on the O-Pen and XLVape systems are interchangeable.

Open vape CO2 cartridge - lemon diesel
O-Pen Vape Cartridge (Back)
Indica cartridges were sold out, so I opted for the O-Pen sativa cartridge in Lemon Diesel flavor. The 1/2 gram cartridge cost $35. The oil is CO2 extracted, made by Sound CO2 and analyzed by Cannatest.

The O-Pen and XLVape pens differ from other vaporizers because they are the diameter of a ball point pen, use self-contained cartridges and don't require a push-button to operate. The XLVape cartridges are an opaque silver color, like the body of the device. The O-Pen Vape cartridges are clear. Both systems have their advantages: the XLVape is subtle while the O-Pen Vape lets you see how much product remains. Many vaporizers have a chambers for dried marijuana and/or extracts. Larger diameter vaporizers are less subtle, but offer a more intense 'puff' of vapor which some users find more satisfying.

The front of the O-Pen packaging reads '250mg Premium Cartridge', so the .5g cartridge must contain about 50% polyethylene glycol (PEG) - an inactive ingredient added as filler and/or as a processing aid.  The need for such filler is debatable, but as they point out on the O-Pen vape website,
"we use (PEG) to make the oil less viscous so that the oil will vaporize more readily. It is harmless and used it many pharmaceutical applications as well as common over the counter products."
The choice of polyethylene glycol over propylene glycol (PG) is interesting. Most e-cigarettes use PG instead of PEG because it has a better safety profile; PG is recognized by the FDA as 'Generally Recognized as Safe' (GRAS) and approved for inhalation by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Flavor wise, the Lemon Diesel cartridge lacked citrusy flavor and tasted muted but pleasant. It wasn't terribly different from other CO2 oils I have experienced. It seems some of the aroma rich terpenes get stripped out in the refinement process. Some BHO extracts retain excellent aromatic profiles. These are issues that will certainly be resolved with time to fine-tune processing variables of the CO2 oil.

The value proposition of a product with  1/4 g of active ingredient for $35 is questionable. Essentially, these products are diluted hash oil selling for $140/g. The convenience and novelty of the product justify the expense, for now. But the ongoing expense of $35 cartridges might motivate the thrifty connoisseur to improvise their own refill system.

These vape pens are a convenient option for medical marijuana patients, or recreational users interested in sparing their lungs the damage of smoking. The lack of odor and ease of use lend vape pens to being used in situations where traditional marijuana products can not be used. Which may or may not be a good thing.

(c) 2014 Stoner Living Blog


Monday, April 28, 2014

Hashish for the New Generation: Dabs, Hash Oil and Vaping

Hash oil (also called honey oil, BHO and dabs) has exploded on the North American scene. The past few years have seen a proliferation of marijuana products going far beyond traditional hashish. Long before kids were blowing up suburban garages with compressed butane and before ingesting cannabis had anything to do with a blow torch, excellent quality hash existed in a handful of special places. Let's explore some of this heritage and consider what it means for marijuana connoisseurs in 2014.
High Quality American Kief
High quality American Kief

First of all - what is hash anyway, and what about hash oil?

As a more compressed/concentrated form of marijuana, hash (hashish) became popular during global prohibition of cannabis because of its relative ease of transport. This is similar to the gain in popularity of distilled spirits over wine and beer during American alcohol prohibition.  In the USA, hash shows up sporadically and becomes the stuff of urban legend.

But hash has never been popular or widely available in the United States. Why has the European tradition of hash smoking failed to catch on in the US? Locals in Amsterdam smoke hash rolled with tobacco.

Maybe smoking 'bud' is an American thing. Perhaps it traces back to the influx of cheap Mexican weed in the 70s, followed by the flood of BC Bud, outdoor weed from the emerald triangle in California and finally recreational legalization in Colorado and Washington State. Maybe it had to do with the proximity to Jamacia and hypnotic Rastafarian grooves.  Or maybe it is because Americans can drive a car load of stinky marijuana from California to NY without interaction if they obey traffic laws, while drivers in Europe had lots of borders to cross.

Hash is purified marijuana, produced by isolating the psychoactive active-ingredient-rich trichomes (resin glands) from the plant material. Examining a marijuana flower closely will show small, glassy, clear to amber colored trichomes that look like little pins, with heads on stalks. These trichomes can be removed mechanically (as with charas or ice hash) or by using solvents like butane or CO2. The resulting isolated trichomes are pressed together to make hash.

Hand rubbed charas are a well known classic form of hash from Nepal and India, made from the resin collected from hands during the hand-processing of marijuana. Gardaa is an excent hashish produced in the northern parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its format varies slightly by region, with some formats being powdery and others being a dark, pliable solid.

Hash Production
Domestically, screens in various formats can be used to separate the trichomes from plant material well enough to produce very pure hash. Fine powder (kief) is created by screening the cannabis over screens that are 127 - 135 lines/inch. The resin glands that fall off of marijuana flowers can be obtained at home from stash-boxes with screened bottoms. Quality product is made slowly with light pressure, taking care not to screen undesirable plant material into the kief. Instructions for preparing hash are available online.

'Ice hash' uses the same principle, with bags made out of silk-screen material, ice and water. Cold water extraction makes the trichomes fragile and more likely to fall off the plant material, filter through the various layers of silk screen bag until they are isolated and collected. One benefit of this method is that no harmful solvents are used. Supplies can be obtained for under $200 USD from Fresh Headies in BC.

Commercial tumblers using screens in drum formats are ideal for larger operations, with excellent examples of both tumblers and ice systems. Screens can be purchased at printing stores for under thirty dollars. The resulting powder can be further pressed into solid shapes using heat and pressure.

The resulting powdery screened product will vary in quality vastly, depending on raw material quality and processing factors like time and pressure. It is variously called pollen (polm), kief (kif),  skuff, scuff, (scuff is technically the material used to make the hash and the verb of obtaining it), The resulting product is available as-is at dispensaries and hash markets where marijuana is legal.

Cinex BHO (Butane Hash Oil)
Hash Oil
The concept behind hash oil is to separate the desired psychoactive compounds (ideally along with aroma and flavor compounds) while leaving the other material behind. The process is creating a marijuana 'essential oil' (not to be confused with the hemp oil which is extracted from seeds). The main psychoactive compounds in marijuana are not water soluble - but they are soluble in fats, alcohols and other solvents like butane and CO2 .   

'Dabs' refers to concentrate products (hash or honey oil) and the process of smoking such products in specialized vaporizers. Think of dabs as the next generation of hashish, a cannabis extract popular for centuries. This hash oil is a waxy version of hash made by refining a marijuana extract so only crystallized resins (and no structural plant materials) are left behind. Hash oil can be made from a wide range of solvents. High quality hash oil is sometimes called honey oil. Other textures of hash oil are know as shatter, wax, ear wax and diffent local terms.

Probably the most popular hash oil available today is BHO - Butane Hash Oil - made using solvents of varying purity (usually sold as lighter fluid, widely available at gas stations, etc). Some claim up to 1% of the butane used can remain in the hash oil (this seems unlikely to the author). This residual butane has health risks of its own.

Despite efforts to 'purge' the hash oil, the product may remain contaminated by non-volatile contaminants other than butane. Brands like Ronson state on their MSDS sheets that they contain 99% butane.  This means they contain 1% something else, which may be a simple mix of hydrocarbons that will blow off, or it could be something else that will remain and contaminate the hash oil. (Have you ever had a 'plasticy' taste?). Smoking systems that involve heating a metal or ceramic nail introduce the very real possibility of introducing metal toxins. Blow torches are inherently dangerous when used by the intoxicated.

One undesirable consequence of over-processing marijuana is the potential to strip out desirable aroma & flavor compounds. After all, a 100% THC extract wouldn't have the fruity and complex aromatic bouquet of a well cured cannabis flower.

O Pen Vape E cigarette for cannabis smokers
O Pen Vape- An E-Cigarette for Weed!

Often, hash oil extracts are smoked in elaborate devices, some requiring the use of a blowtorch and a 'nail'.  The blowtorch isused to super-heat the metal or ceramic element on the 'nail', and then the hash oil extract is smeared on the heated 'nail' and the resulting vapor is inhaled through a mouth piece. Water cooling/filtration may or may not be involved.

CO2 extraction has great promise. This technique uses sophisticated extractors (not yet available for practical home usage) which use pressurized CO2 to extract the essential oil from the cannabis flowers. Work with processing regimens will continue to improve the product.

Highly pure honey oil has very little odor and can easily be enjoyed in devices that look like e-cigarettes and spare the lungs the harsh hit of burning smoke.  The O-Pen Vape unit looks like a conventional e-cigarette, and costs less that $40 including the charger. Refill cartridges are available for $30. Similar discreet and effective systems are likely to become a commercial format of choice, due to the relative ease of calibrating dosage and standardizing potency of the product.

Quality Tips for Savvy Smokers
If a smoker is going to be using the product as a 'topper' for marijuana smoked in a pipe or bong, ground hash or kief is recommended. Loose kief or pollen is best enjoyed mixed with another smoking base - ground cannabis flower or tobacco works well. This can be smoked through a pipe, water pipe or can be rolled in paper. Lighter gold/beige colors indicate higher quality than greenish powder (green indicates it has been screened long enough to include undesirable leaf material in addition to trichomes). Consumers looking for a natural product should consider domestic kief or hash made by cold water extraction if looking for an ideal cannabis topper.

Hash oil in one of its many guises is ideal for those who vaporize their cannabis. Its suitability for use in e-cigarette type devices has great commercial potential. Home vaporizing systems will be discussed in a later article. Hash oil varies in quality and potency, and few offer the results of analytical testing due to the expense of testing. Remember, blow torches are inherently dangerous when operated by the intoxicated.

Concerns about purity and lingering solvents make CO2 extracted products preferred over Butane extracted products (BHO), until purity can be guaranteed otherwise. 

Reported by H. Hjorth for Stoner Living

-------- (c) 2013 Stoner Living