While visiting the family farm of our friend Ali in the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco, PRØHBTD is treated to a special demonstration of the traditional hash making technique of the region, which has provided the cannabis smoking world with countless tons of hashish since the 1960s, when the modern trade began.
The main hash making period is yet to commence, so this is just a small batch made from a plant of a type that remains unusual in the Rif—an autoflowering plant, of the strain known as Anesthesia.
We are led to the hash rooms—several long, low outbuildings with bare walls and rough concrete floors—and made comfortable, or as comfortable as the Spartan furnishings allow. Perched gingerly on fragile plastic chairs more suitable for schoolchildren, we watch as two of Ali’s nephews prepare the scene for the session to come. They brush the floor, arrange chairs and lay out their tools: a wooden club reminiscent of a small baseball bat, a large round bright green plastic basin, a swathe of heavy black cloth, various sticks and elastic bands and a huge plastic bag with the entire dried cannabis plant inside it.
The two teenage boys begin by breaking the dried cannabis flowers off the stems, which are pulled out and discarded. Once all the stems have been removed, the bag is placed to one side. There is a brief moment of panic when Edgar, our good friend in Morocco and the owner of the plant, realizes that his material has been accidentally mixed up with some material from the khardala, the Pakistani Afghani strain that has been grown in Morocco for several years now.
It’s too late to do anything about it now, however, so he resigns himself to this fact and his grumbling soon ceases. The shame faced boys, resentful at the rebuke, must be persuaded to resume working; however, this does not take long, and they are soon busy once more, their irrepressible grins firmly back in place.
They take the large green basin and stretch the heavy black cloth tightly over it,securing it with a complicated arrangement of sticks and elastic bands; now it resembles a makeshift drum. Next, they maneuver the bag of cannabis so that the material rests neatly on top of the cloth, which is woven in a fine mesh to allow the powdery resin to fall through, while preventing the leaf material from following suit. The bag is secured around the material and tied in place around the drum with more twine. We are now ready for the next stage of the process.
This turns out to be a lively five minutes in which the older of the two teenagers, Mohammed, rapidly and regularly beats the drum with the wooden club, causing a steady, deep rhythm to reverberate through the room. After he deems the time sufficient, he ends his drum solo with a flamboyant flourish and grins proudly across at us.
Next, the huge plastic bag is removed from the drum and placed to one side along with the residual material inside it. The mesh cloth is then gently beaten with the club to disengage any particles of resin that may be clinging to its underside, and is itself removed. Inside, a small pile of light, golden powder resembling fine brown sugar can be seen.
The sides of the basin are coated with a thick fuzz of trichomes, which the boys scrape off the plastic with the aid of a scoop made from a plastic bottle of Coca-Cola, adding it to the pile at the bottom. Once this is done, the powder is tipped carefully into a small plastic bag and presented to Edgar and myself for our perusal. We judge it satisfactory in appearance, and proceed to inspect it more closely for aroma and texture, before finally rolling up some fat joints to sample its flavor.
I’m not hugely impressed by the flavor, as it is clearly reminiscent of ruderalis, but the texture is light and fluffy without too much oiliness, and the aroma is fresh and spicy. The effect too is light and fluffy, with little real body stone but plenty of head high. Overall, it is a successful experiment, and it proves that hashish of reasonable quality can be produced from automatic plants in Morocco. Whether this is a trend that will catch on in a wider sense remains to be seen. I secretly hope not, as any further threats to the indigenous gene pool could be catastrophic.
Seshata is a full-time cannabis journalist and researcher currently based in Italy. Find Seshata over at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or her own personal site seshatasensi.com. Main image by jbdodane/flickr.