Any international cannoisseur worth his or her salt should know a thing or two about Moroccan hashish, given its ubiquity, its range of flavors and effects, and its incontrovertible importance to the global market. One of those things that is a basic, fundamental truth about Moroccan dry-sift hash is that it shouldn’t be overly sticky; if it is, the traditional wisdom holds, it can’t be any good because it has some kind of (almost certainly non-cannabis) oil added to it.
So what is the deal with the myriad, ostensibly very high-quality Moroccan hashes that are increasingly common in Amsterdam and Barcelona, which look and smell wonderful but leave an infuriating layer of tacky, impossible-to-remove junk all over the fingers when handled with all but the lightest possible touch? This PRØHBTD reporter decided to come straight to the source to find out—the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco, where the annual harvest has already begun in some fields, and is about to kick off in earnest in the weeks to come.
I meet my contacts in Tetouan, a town 40 minutes or so east of Tangier that is an important pit stop on the way to the Rif. Minutes later, we are firmly ensconced in a brand-new Audi S8 and hurtling down the highway at heart-stopping speeds on our way to the Rif Mountain town of Chefchaouen, with its ancient, blue-painted medina; not because we are in any particular hurry, but just because it’s a nice car and that’s just how shit gets done in Morocco.
Halfway there we decide we are going to Akchour instead. Confusing, nightmarishplanning and constant last-minute changes are also apparently integral to how shit gets done in Morocco. But it’s all part of the package—plus, I don’t care at this stage, as I’ve just been supplied with a lump of pristine hash, and I’m busy looking for the necessary accoutrements to construct my first joint of the day.
And lo and behold, the hash is sticky as fuck, and after I finally manage to build my joint, I spend a good few minutes scraping my fingers clean. I ask Edgar, my first point of contact in Morocco, just what exactly the deal is.
He tells me that, first off, it’s absolutely correct that the traditional hashish made in the Rif does not and should never leave your fingers sticky in such a manner. So is this hash just some crap with olive oil added to it to increase the weight and make it appear higher in quality?
Absolutely not, Edgar explains. In fact, this hash is of premium quality, and has been processed in an identical manner to any other high-grade Moroccan hashish.
The reason for the fundamental difference in appearance and texture between thetraditional Moroccan hashish and these strange new flavors is all in the genetics. The sticky hashish batches are the result of plants grown from commercial foreign-seed stock, usually from the Netherlands, Spain and the U.S., which have been introduced in increasing quantities over the last decade or so. For example, the hash I’m currently smoking is the result of a Critical/Lemon Haze cross, and the farm we’re going to check out later also has varieties made from Cheese, Amnesia Haze and Matanuska.
It is not clear why these introduced strains should differ so greatly from traditional hashish made from the naturalized varieties that the Rif farmers refer to as beldia. Perhaps it is a question of cannabinoid and terpene ratios, or perhaps it is simply that these strains, developed for indoor growing conditions, are poorly-adapted to Rif Mountain conditions.
There is another introduced plant type that has been in Morocco for some years longer than the Dutch varieties that first began to show up. This type is of Pakistani/Afghani origin, and the hashish made from it is referred to as khardala (and often appears in Dutch coffeeshops as “gardela”). However, Moroccan-made dry sift from Pakistani/Afghani plants generally does not have this sticky quality.
Perhaps in future there will be some way of ascertaining, possibly through genetic testing and cannabinoid analysis, exactly why the indoor-developed commercial varieties produce such sticky hashish compared with the local beldia and the khardala. Edgar explains that the industry in Morocco is changing so rapidly that in a few years, the level of organization required to conduct empirical tests to find out exactly what’s up may be possible. For now, that’s pretty unlikely and probably not all that economically useful, considering that the cannabis-hungry global market will continue to buy Moroccan hashish no matter how sticky it is.
I’m keen to find out more, but there is no more time to ask questions. We have arrived in Akchour, and it is time to climb the mountain to check on the plants.