My relationship with Hashish was at first a teenage love story, then it became the passion of a traveler and finally a dark secret to keep to blend into the “real” world and assume responsibilities for the first time of my life. I had been a nomad with no obligations, bonds or restraints of any sort, a life of total freedom dedicated to discovery and personal education.
I shared this life style with many. I was part of a vast tribe of nomads from countries all over the world forever meeting and moving apart in an incessant quest for adventures, thrill and discovery; the freedom to travel the world with no real direction or goal is priceless but also demands dedication, nothing can have a hold on you if you want the world to be your oyster.
I consummated my childhood dreams of traveling the world for close to twenty years and I may have never stopped my nomadic life but for another adventure, one of a very different nature alongside my best friend, fatherhood.
The birth of my daughter was a staggering experience, a miraculous moment that is forever burning bright in my memory, my wife gave birth naturally with a midwife in a private house in Tokyo. To have shared every moment of the birth is the most precious gift I have ever received. It took me a few days to get over the emotional shockwave, my daughter’s eyes locking on me before taking her first breath, cutting the umbilical cord, washing this perfect tiny human being was literally overwhelming at all levels and while I had been functional I was also on sensory and emotional overload, the beginning of an incredibly rewarding and humbling journey; to be able to see the world through a child’s eyes again is a priceless gift.
I lost my tribe and social life became just an act outside the real world that was my family, most of the relations I had were superficial, always clouded by the need of secrecy and the fear of discovery. My daughter was everything and I had my best friend at my side. We weren’t lonely but hiding who we were continually was a negativity in our life we could have done without.
Fast forward twenty years, my little baby girl has become a woman and left the familial nest; the fourth chapter of my life had come and while I thought at my daughter’s birth that when I could I would go back to a nomadic life, it was apparent twenty years later that wasn’t quite possible anymore. I was facing a late mid-life crisis. Letting go of the center of my universe was as beautiful as seeing her take her first step but it opened a void. I needed to dedicate the rest of my life to a new passion. My life had been all about me, then all about my daughter and when I finally took the scary step to become a legal Cannabis patient and I came to discover the therapeutic aspects of the cannabinoids and terpenes my focus returned to my oldest passion, Hashish.
I discovered the medicinal properties of the Cannabis resin I thought I knew so well when I came into contact for the first time with people who used Cannabis solely for medical reasons. My long relation with Cannabis was transformed from a love story to total dedication. Learning the science behind this plant’s amazing properties became central to my life and a journey of educational discovery began. The healing power of Cannabis resin, while not publicized in the producing regions of the world, is nonetheless apparent in the general health of the local people, which I had taken as a reflection of a simple if demanding lifestyle but saw in a different light with the revelation of the healing properties of the plant.
I attended Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California, to have a clear understanding of the laws protecting my new rights, to learn about the history of Cannabis prohibition in the U.S. and the people behind a legalization that I had always thought impossible, and to get a general feel of the Cannabis community.
I had a short spell at growing which gave me the opportunity to make Hashish again and to realize that all these years of traveling had brought a considerable amount of experience and knowledge of traditional resin collecting methodologies. I had been working alongside many Hashishins for months at a time in my seasonal quests for quality and as much as I had absorbed knowledge it had been done so unconsciously. I had to find out how much I actually knew. My wife did some Googling and ordered all the books on Hashish she could find. I had a lot of fun discovering how much I really knew after all these years of dedication to quality in producing countries. Robert C. Clarke’s Hashish was the most in-depth book on the subject I could find. It showed me how much I knew but also how much I had to learn; I had the experience but I needed to study the science behind what I had experienced to really take my work to the next level.
I had been smoking flowers since my arrival in the U.S. however black market quality even in California is limited and fickle. Sharing the life of breeders and growers from the Emerald Triangle changed my whole perspective on Cannabis flowers and resin production. I am ashamed to admit that I had never truly been conscious of the Cannabis plant all those years; my perspective was that the magic was in the resin, and I gave little thought to the plant outside making sure that no particles of it would blemish the purity of the resin.
I had been in many Cannabis fields, cultivated and wild, around the world and felt the energy surrounding me while harvesting plants or resin but I had never felt the power of what can only be called the Cannabis Trees. The size and energy vibration of a twenty-foot, sun grown Cannabis plant in the Emerald Triangle is directly proportional to the love and dedication given by the growers. It is very powerful and soothing, very different from what I had experienced in producing countries where the power of the land rules.
I came to the Emerald Triangle seeking high quality resin, the eternal quest of the Hashishin, however NorCal is not a producing region like others I had been to. One does not simply walk onto a farm in Trinity, Humboldt or Mendocino county and charm a local family into letting a total stranger share their harvest. I thought about entering my Hashish at the Emerald Cup in 2011 as a way of introduction but they took only flower entries to avoid any legal conflicts with the local authorities that were on the war path that year. I finally set foot in Humboldt for the 2012 Emerald Cup and as I stepped under a light drizzle on a foggy and cold morning into the event space in the middle of rough looking crowd, it was like coming back to my long, lost tribe in the mountains of India. I had a “Déjà Vue Love at First Sight” experience and spent the weekend enjoying the sweet feeling of belonging. I ended the event by meeting the winner of the competition, Leo Stone of Aficionado Estates. We exchanged just a few words but meaningful enough to start a lasting relationship; Leo told me that he was growing for terpene production. My response was to open my jar and let the terpenes that I work hard to preserve do the talking. The smile on his face was priceless.
The core value of the quality of the resin I had collected as a Hashishin while traveling all these years in producing countries was always defined by the place of origin, by the land, the climate and the genetics. The human factor wasn’t really relevant. Cultivated fields of Cannabis in valleys at 2,000 feet will not produce the same quality of resin as plants growing at 10,000 feet. The quantifying question then becomes about not who made the Hashish or Charas but how far they were willing to walk to make it.
My association with Aficionado Estates was never conventional for these reasons, we started a working relationship mimicking the bond existing between a winemaker and a vineyard. The resin quality dictates the quality of the Hashish as much as the quality and ripeness of grapes does for wine. It is the final expression of the land, the climate, the genetics and ultimately of the dedication and knowledge of the breeder and farmer.
The concept of Cannabis terroir[i], something I had experienced often during my travels but never recognized as such, was brought to my attention the following year and became instantly central to my vision of the future. The notion of a Cannabis terroir was developed by studying the botany of the Cannabis plant and its unparalleled power of adaption as well as the origin and history of wine so that I could define clearly all aspects of the French concept of terroir and Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (“controlled designation of origin”)[ii] to be able to adapt the concept to local California Cannabis production, and to the protection of our small farmers confronting the hurdles of legalization. The U.S. Cannabis industry must adopt a commercial game plan that focuses on quality over quantity, on small organic farming instead of large monoculture with its dependence on pesticides and chemical nutrients if they want to be competitive in the world market of tomorrow.
The Cannabis industry should also be aware that the use of pesticides or any other chemicals is truly a danger to society when farming the plant the most adapted to the process of phytoremediation; a process that permits a few plant species to extract and concentrate within their tissues toxic metals, pesticides, solvents, gasoline, even radioactive material, to remove them from the soil and groundwater and render them harmless.[iii]
The Cannabis plant has the potential to create a better world and possibly bring humanity to a new level of health and wellness. We are parenting the birth of an industry that will shape the future of our planet and of our children. We will be judged by the future generations on the choices we are making today. Will we choose blind greed or the birth of a legacy.
May we all stand united for the love of the plant!
[ii] The ”appellation d’origine contrôlée” (AOC), which translates as “controlled designation of origin”, is the French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butter and other agricultural products, all under the auspices of the government bureau ”Institut national des appellations d’origine”, now called Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité+ (INAO). It is based on the concept of terroir. http://datab.us/i/appellation%20d’origine%20contr%25C3%25B4l%25C3%25A9e
Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 132