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Hash Isn't for the Timid 

The marijuana-derived product has its own aficionados

click to enlarge In Good Hands SPARC sells an array of hashish-related products. - JONAH RASKIN
  • Jonah Raskin
  • In Good Hands SPARC sells an array of hashish-related products.

Hash, the smoke, isn't for the timid. Soldiers in Napoleon's army brought it from Egypt to Europe, where it caught on fast. In 19th-century France, every self-respecting writer used the concentrated extract and belonged to "The Hashish Club." That history was a big selling point for hippies and still is for hash aficionados.

The No. 1 reason folks ought to take care with hashish is that it contains as much as 45–60 percent THC. One small hit that has flower and hash together will likely make you "zonked," as one user put it.

SPARC in Santa Rosa carries a wide variety of hash from different companies, and has very knowledgeable "member consultants." Santa Rosa–native Josh, 22, smokes hash and marijuana together in a bong. "It's very cost-efficient," he says. "It makes an eighth of a gram of weed last a lot longer." He ignites the marijuana, which in turn ignites the hash. That method makes for a process that's smoother than lighting the hash directly.

At SPARC, Eric McNiel is the guy to go to if you want to sell hash, or learn how it's made. There are many different methods, McNiel explains, including the old-school method where ice and water are added to marijuana and then agitated in a washing machine or cement mixer. The trichomes—which produce the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids—fall through a series of screens. Once the substance dries and gets firm, it's ready to smoke. Recently, this reporter watched the making of hash at a marijuana farm in Santa Rosa. Two pounds of marijuana yielded only two ounces of hash, but that hash went a very long way.

McNiel says most of the marijuana in the dispensary on North Dutton is cultivated in Northern California. Some of the product arrives at SPARC through distributors and some comes directly from farmers. Hash isn't the only marijuana-derived product on sale at SPARC. The dispensary also offers tinctures, topicals, edibles and smokeables.

SPARC has hash experts, but the expert of all experts is "Frenchy" Cannoli who occasionally shows up at meetings of the Sonoma County Cultivation Group (SCCG) in Sebastopol with his hookah. Cannoli is a master hash maker. If you catch him in person, do smoke with him on his hookah. Otherwise, find him on YouTube. He's the star of the documentary "Frenchy Dreams of Hashish." Strike that. It's the hashish that's the star of the video.

Jonah Raskin is the author of "Dark Day, Dark Night: A Marijuana Murder Mystery."

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