A People’s History of the Hash From Prohibition to Popularity
For Canadians of a certain age, the smell of hash will always trigger nostalgic memories of rebellious acts of youth. At a time when even possession of small amounts of cannabis could land you in the slammer, hash (and hash oil) were instruments of pushing back. Pushing back against unfair and irrational drug laws. Pushing back against limits to constitutionally protected freedoms. In all the hubbub of legalization in Canada it’s easy to forget how hard so many fought for the rights we all currently enjoy.
To celebrate our rich legacy of fighting for what’s right by patients, consumers, producers and advocates we present this article. We come to praise hash, to rekindle memories of misadventure and hijinx. These days there are an eye-popping number of concentrates and extracts available to the Canadian cannabis consumer. However much we love our budders, waxes and live rosins, we want to take you back to the OG extract, the one that started it all, the beautiful, the mysterious, the delicious, hashish. So fire up your Grandma’s butter knives, cut open a 2L coke bottle and inhale the sweet smell of hash!
With our campfire vibes and aww shucks Canadiana feel, Stok’d Cannabis has always been a cheerleader for great hash. However, our Clairlea location in Scarborough has become a true champion for the sticky brown, black, blond, rosin and bubble. Between our budtenders, managers and customers we have developed a community of hash expertise and appreciation. Stok’d Clairlea is HashQ for this magical extract. Order in-store or buy hash online, great at every price point!
We polled our various communities (shout to Stok’d IG, Facebook, Twitter) and we were tickled by the stories that came back. Many of you shared heartwarming tales of high school shenanigans, fond and blond memories and heroic anecdotes of playing MacGyver with a blowtorch and kitchen cutlery. Before we get into the basics of hash extracts and learn more we begin with some wayback OG hash stories. It’s a wonder that any of us still have eyebrows!
If you smoked weed in the 1980s and early-mid 90s in Southwestern Ontario there was a good chance you were smoking hash. Brick weed from Mexico and Jamaica was occasionally available and yearly harvests of green occurred. However due to illegality, hash was often better stored and transported than flower. It’s one of the reasons why hash is still popular in places like Europe and Asia where cannabis is still illegal. Around the time The Tragically Hip were recording their second album, young folks across Southwestern Ontario were widely using kitchen elements, blowtorches and coke bottles to get high. Here are a few stories of from the Stok’d community, generously rehashing their experiences with us:
Back in the day I was asked to babysit a neighbour’s kids, and asked if I could bring my friend along. We’d found her mom’s stash box a week earlier, and took a piece of hash from it before going to the gig. Once we got the kids to bed, we went out on the back deck and smoked it on a pin – I remember coughing like a mofo. Went back inside, giggled A LOT, and noticed the Kama Sutra on the bookshelf – which of course we pulled down and started leafing through, giggling even more. We eventually passed out – me on the couch and my friend on the lazyboy. I woke up to the Dad standing at the entranceway to the rec-room, trying to wake us up – I have no idea how long he’d been calling my name but we passed out HARD. I jumped up, woke up my friend, and as we scrambled out of the room, I noticed the Kama Sutra still open on the coffee table. I was mortified but just left it there. And yes, I was asked to babysit again 🙂 – Stok’d co-founder Lisa Bigioni <Link to Lisa Author Page> editor’s note: If you know what a rec room is you’re definitely from SW Ontario
It was the mid-90s and I had just moved to Ontario from BC as an angsty teeneager. I got a job working the mini-putt at Erin Mills Town Centre and one night when we were supposed to be cleaning up for the day one of my colleagues asked if I had tried hash. Shaking my head no he beckoned me to follow him to the bowels of the mall, in a maintenance room with pipes and water systems. He broke out a small butane torch, a couple of well used butter knives and a piece of dark hash. With the noise and smoke covered by the maintenance room we got blissfully stoned out of our minds. Of course the cleanup turned into us whacking golf balls down the halls of the mall, leading to a puzzled custodian and security guard when the mall opened the next day. You really could get away with wild shenanigans before the age of video cameras couldn’t you 😂? – Anonymous
I was in biology class one day and found a glass tube that I figured would be great for smoking hash so I took it. Met my friend T in the smoking lounge at school (can you believe they had those?) and showed it to her and she was just as excited as I was and pulled out a piece of hash to try it out. We lit it, and just as I was inhaling, I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was a teacher – so I sucked really hard to get all the smoke I could before he noticed, but I ended up sucking the burning chunk of hash into my throat and I couldn’t eat for a week. Editor’s note: smoking was banned on Ontario high school property in 1994
Some time later….
Again, in the smoking lounge, we were doing hot knives and I lit a big chunk of hash – probably about a quarter gram. Just as I was inhaling, I again got a tap on my shoulder but it was the principal this time. He grabbed the shoulder of my jacket and was pulling me down the hall to his office – but all the while I continued to smoke the hash while he dragged me along. By the time we got to the office and he asked me what I had -I had smoked it all and it was just ash. I told him it was dried candied fruit and we heated it up to make it softer to eat. – Rita C
My hash story was camping at Outlet Park near Bellville. As cars would drive by in the night, their lights would flash through the tent. Scared the heck out of me. Thought it was aliens 👽 (editor’s note: It was probably aliens). – Danny B
Hot knives with my older cousin Dave (who was in his mid 20’s) when he thought it would be funny to get 12 year old me high. Needless to say I got the all time high score on Duck Hunt later that day. – Chris G (editor’s note: why are Daves like this? 😂)
My best hash story was watching my aunt lay out small bits on the table and pick them up with the lit end of her cigarette. She then put the cigarette in the side of the bottle, closed the lid, waited for the smoke to build up, shen inhaled from the bottle and did it again. And I thought I was crazy for smoking out of a pop can – Ashely G. (editor’s note: No judgements either way)
Now that we’ve gone down memory lane, let’s dive a little deeper into what hashish is and what life is like now for the Canadian hash lovers.
Hash is oleoresin made by compressing and processing cannabis buds or any other part of the plant material where trichomes appear. It’s more potent than flower, however it can deliver a more mellow high than other extracts. The best hash goes back thousands of years to ancient India where cannabis first appears in the Hindu Kush mountains (mmmm Kush mountains 🤤). Hash can come in different colours and extraction formats. Historically, different parts of Asia and Africa were/are home to various hues from golden brown (or “blond”) in the Middle East to brown in Morocco to dark brown or black in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. If you’re from Southwestern Ontario, and were smoking up in the 80s or 90s chances are you tried hash oil, a stickier concentrate that came in small glass or plastic vials. There’s even a Beverly Hills 90210 reference to “ojs” or oil joints, part of the David Silver drugs saga storyline. Yeah Dylan!
Back in the day, you might find one or two types of potent, imported hash. BC hash was always a staple out west, but for the most part it was dark brown or black hash typically found in Afghanistan and South Asia that was available in Southern Ontario. Of course, these days you can find a number of varieties on the legal cannabis market, including BC hash.
A block of Afghan hash, similar to what you might have seen in the prohibition days
Dark brown, pliable and sweet in smell, Afghan hash is as popular today as it was when Persian assassins used to get lit before their deadly missions. Joint rollers can make little sausages by rolling it between their fingers while bong smokers or vapers can easily mix it into small bowls. Of course if you want to go blades-of-steel, it can be turned into little dots (or “spots” as Australian and Kiwi stoners say.)
While not all Moroccan hash is crumbly like this image, most is and comes in a light brown colour. Plant matter is poured through screens and sifted for the best hash. Unfortunately, not by young maidens riding horses topless through cannabis fields and collecting trichomes on their naked bodies, as cool as that myth might be. While not as pliable (usually you need to add fire to a small piece to manipulate) it’s easy to sprinkle into joints or spliffs, a very popular way to consume hash across Europe, North African and the Middle East. Not the best for bottle tokes or hot knives but easy to handle for bong or vape consumers.
Lebanese hash, aka “blonde hash”, can also come in slightly darker shades or even light green in colour and potent af. It’s a little less flakey than Moroccan hash so it’s easy to manipulate into little snakes, sausages or spots, making it friendly to all consumption methods.
Bubble hash is made by agitating cannabis material with ice water and special ice bags. It’s been common across Canada with many growers using the useful scraps from their trim to make batches of bubble hash each harvest. Depending on freshness, it can be slightly brittle and need some heat or patient fingers to break it up into smokeable pieces. Not great for hot knives but otherwise works well with dab rigs, sprinkled into joints or bowls.
To create hash rosin, you take bubble hash then press and heat it in a press. There’s also live hash rosin which is pressed from dried flowers before it’s dried. Both are hugely popular variations of an ancient favourite. When it comes to rosins, resins and other extracts, dab rigs or concentrate pens are the most common way to consume them.
There are a number of different ways you can fire up a hot rock, from the crude to the elegant. We’ll start off with the old school methods.
Depending on your McGuyverness, you can heat up your knives on a kitchen element (gas works better) or using a heating device like a blowtorch. Once your knives are red (and really this is definitely the least safe way to smoke weed) you can scoop up a dot or hash and let inhale the smoke as it rises. We’ll let Trevor and Cory demonstrate.
Bottle Tokes (BT), aka beetees, bots or bottle rips, are the next level up on the industriousness scale. Rather than trying to catch all the smoke as it rises, a BT uses a plastic bottle to capture the hash smoke. For extra credit, you can cut the bottom out, flip it around and fill the bottom half with ice. To go full teenage dirtbag, skip the hot knives and simply place hash or oil on the tip of a cigarette and let the smoke fill the empty bottle.
Ok this is definitely not a safe way to consume hash but if you’re stuck at a party at the cottage and you’ve run out of papers, or some similar roadblock to getting high, it’s an easy backup. Just take a pin and poke a few holes on the can, add a choke hole and you’re away. But seriously do anything you can to avoid this because you’re firing up aluminium and god knows what else.
Whether you’re using little hash snakes/sausages or breaking it up into little bits (be careful of falling hot rocks!) hash can easily be smoked in a joint or bong. Many consumers blend in tobacco with their hash (aka spliffs) but you can also just add it to your dry flower for an extra kick.
Unless you’re going for nostalgia, a butane torch and kitchen knives aren’t the most efficient or safe way to smoke hash. Dab rigs and concentrate pens/vapes are the most popular way to consume cannabis extracts like hash. Especially when you’re talking about higher end products like live rosin hash, these devices will deliver a less harmful vapour than combustion and at a temperature designed to lock in flavour and terpenes.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with a good, old hash pipe. Right Weezer? You can smoke a good piece of hash directly or create a little mix of flower, tobacco or herbal blend so it smokes a little slower.
Our good friends at HashCo have come out with an elegant product that brings back the feelings of BTs without the risk of a kitchen fire. These are hard to find and almost impossible to keep stocked so if you find one, do buy it.
The Nugz Häpple is a slightly cheaper option than the Hash Kettle but is also a great way to rekindle the memories of the past without creating a fire hazard.
Well there you have it stoners, a brief history of hash in Canada. Of course hash is available coast-to-coast now but we also wanted to highlight a brief history of the Hashbelt. In the 1980s and 90s, hash and hash oil were some of the only cannabis products that were available to Southwestern Ontario. While our methods of consumption weren’t always safe, we did generate some incredible memories that make us laugh to this day. We also covered some of the history of hashish, the varieties known from different regions of the world and the methods that we can now consume them with. Of course we’ve only scratched the surface and look forward to going even deeper into one of our most beloved forms of cannabis.