What is Hash?

Scott Jones

There are numerous new cannabis products available these days but some of them have been around for a long time. In the case of hashish, more commonly known as hash, we’re talking hundreds of years in the cultures of northern Africa, India, and even Europe. Whether you’ve heard of it or not, you may find yourself wondering what hash is, what it is made from, and how it’s made. Or maybe you just want to know if it’ll get you as high (or higher) than other cannabis or hemp products. In this article, we’ll dive into the story of hash to answer the most pressing (you’ll get that pun later) questions about this ancient cannabis concentrate. Let’s hash it out.

History of Hash

Hash has a long history, especially in countries like Morocco, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Lebanon. The first recorded use of the word ‘hashish’ was in a pamphlet printed in Egypt in 1123 CE. Originally, hash was made into a dough-like substance that would be eaten by users, but when Europeans introduced tobacco to Old World cultures, it soon took on a more solid, smokable form. It was at this time that hash made its foray into European cultures. Indian cultures would also use hashish as a primary ingredient in bhang, which is used in food and drink, commonly prepared for the celebration of the Hindu festivals Maha Shivaratri and Holi.

The therapeutic effects of hash have also been explored for centuries. In 1839, Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy published a comprehensive study of hashish, highlighting its potential to relieve the symptoms of afflictions such as cramps, rheumatism, convulsions, and muscle spasms. Other 19th century physicians and research also explored hash as a treatment for pain, migraines, gastrointestinal distress, and insomnia. These findings mirror some of the modern studies into the therapeutic effects of cannabis products.

What is Hash Made From?

The primary components for making hash are the trichomes of the cannabis or hemp plant. Trichomes are the bulbous, mushroom shaped glands that develop on the flowers of either cannabis or hemp. While they are still attached to the living flowers, trichomes are usually a translucent white color, but upon being separated, they will transition to a green, gold, amber, or brown color, and are commonly referred to as kief. These glands produce resinous essential oils that have extremely high concentrations of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds that interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system to create therapeutic and psychoactive effects.

How is Hash Made?

There are several methods by which the trichomes of the cannabis plant can be processed into hashish, but they all involve the same general steps. These steps include:

  • Harvesting – Cannabis flowers are allowed to mature, then harvested when their trichome levels reach their peak.
  • Separation and Collection – The trichomes are separated from the flowers and collected so that they can be processed further to make hashish. There are a variety of separation processes.
  • Hand rolling – This is the traditional method used for hundreds of years. Flowers are rolled between the hands or on a hard surface. Heat and friction causes the glands to stick to the hands or surface, where they are then collected.
  • Dry sieving – Cannabis flowers are passed through increasingly fine sieves. Because trichomes are smaller than the plant material, they pass through these screens where they can be collected.
  • Ice water extraction – Cannabis flowers are exposed to ice water, making the trichomes brittle and thus easier to separate from the bud. This mixture is then passed through a fine mesh bag, and the resulting extract is dried, leaving behind a cannabinoid rich trichome resin which can be further processed. Hash made using this method is often known as ‘bubble hash’ or ‘water hash’.
  • Mechanical extraction – More modern hash making techniques utilize machines to agitate the flower, causing the trichomes to separate from the buds. This is commonly done through tumbling or vibration.
  • Chemical solvent extraction – With this method, a chemical like butane or ethanol is applied to the flower which dissolves the trichomes. The chemical mixture is then dried and used to create a trichome resin. Because of the presence of potentially harmful chemicals, it is important that this be done by trained professionals under specialized laboratory conditions.
  • Pressing – This is where the magic happens. The final step in making hashish involves taking the collected kief or trichome resin and applying heat and pressure. This process, known as pressing, results in a cannabinoid rich extract in a dense, sometimes block or brick. Depending on how it’s made, it can be crumbly, doughy, clay, or tar-like.

Will Hash Get Me High?

Now that we have our crumbly block of cannabinoid rich goodness, it’s time to ask the most important question. Will hashish get you high? Assuming it’s been made from cannabis or a hemp strain rich in a psychoactive compound like THCa, yes! Hash will get you high. This is because of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) that we touched on earlier. The ECS has a network of receptors throughout your body, including the brain. This system regulates the balance of most of the body’s internal processes, including focus, creativity, wellbeing, and mood. 

Psychoactive cannabinoids like THC bind with these receptors, which results in them being either activated or deactivated. The interaction between the cannabinoids and the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS create the sensations we associate with being high. These effects include euphoria, increased interest, amusement, joviality, focus, creativity, and relaxation. If you aren’t sure how getting high works or what getting high feels like, read our in-depth article here.

How Strong is Hash?

Because hashish is a concentrated extract of the cannabis or hemp plant, it can have a higher cannabinoid concentration than the average cannabis flower that you would smoke in a pipe, blunt, or joint. The THC or THCa content of hemp or cannabis flower typically ranges from 25% to 35%, but hashish can be concentrated in the range of 60% to 80%.

This higher cannabinoid concentration means that a smaller amount is necessary to achieve the same level of high. When trying hash for the first time, it’s important to start slow and evaluate the effect it has on your body. Ingesting too much at once can lead to an unpleasant experience. If you’re worried that maybe you overdid it, you can read our article on strategies for sobering up from being too high.

Is Hash Legal?

If you’re interested in giving hash a try, it’s important to know whether you can legally do so. Many states have legalized the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis products. If you live in one of those states, hash made from cannabis plants is legal. But what about if you don’t live in a state with legal cannabis use? What does the federal government have to say about hashish?

In 2018, congress passed what is now known as the Farm Bill. This bill made it federally legal to produce and distribute hemp and hemp byproducts, so long as they contain less than 0.3% THC. This might have you thinking that any hash made from hemp won’t get you high. But that line of thought does not consider the chemical compound we mentioned earlier, THCa.

THCa is what is known as a carboxylic acid. I’m sure that means very little to most of you, so let’s lay it out in broader terms. We know that the effects of cannabinoids on the body come about by way of their interaction with the ECS. But inside of cannabis and hemp plants, these cannabinoids exist first as precursors. These precursors are carboxylic acids. For the precursors to be converted to cannabinoids, they must be decarboxylated. This happens through the application of heat, either through burning, vaporizing, superheating, or cooking.

Although hemp cannot be legally cultivated with higher than 0.3% THC concentration, there is no such legal limitation on THCa. Therefore, hemp plants can be bred and cultivated to have high concentrations of THCa, which is then converted to THC when smoked, vaped, or cooked. This is how hashish can be legally produced from hemp plants and still get you high. When you smoke hash with a high concentration of THCa, the carboxylic acid precursor is converted into the cannabinoid THC.

Hash it Out

With such a wide variety of cannabinoid products legally available, having a strong grasp on what they are and how they differ will help you to make the best decision when choosing the ideal product for you. Hashish is one of those options. Hash is a concentrated cannabinoid extract made by collecting the resinous trichomes from either the cannabis or hemp plant. These glands are then pressed, meaning pressure and heat is applied to create a clay or tar-like substance. Because hash is a concentrate, it can have a much higher percentage of psychoactive compounds like THC or its acidic precursor, THCa. This means that hash could get you much higher than normal flower, so it should be approached with care and consideration. Hemp plants can be bred to have high concentrations of THCa, so hash can be legally made and distributed from the flowers of the hemp plant. Hash isn’t the only extract available, either. There are also a variety of concentrates known as dabs that are made and used in a similar fashion to hash. If you’re interested in giving hash a try, but still have a lingering question or too, please don’t be shy. Our helpful trained associates at the Green Dragon are standing by, ready to answer any questions you might have. Just drop us a line in the comments section below this article, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. If you’re looking for a more private discussion, you can also reach us through our contact page. Now you’re ready to enjoy hash to its fullest and add another cannabinoid option to your arsenal.

What is Hash?
In this blog, we’ll dive into the story of hash to answer the most pressing questions about this ancient cannabis concentrate. Let’s hash it out.
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What is Hash?
December 4, 2023
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