“Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” ~Hassan-i
have cultivated and consumed the flowering tops of the female cannabis plant,
colloquially known as marijuana,
since virtually the beginning of recorded history. Cannabis-based textiles
dating to 7,000 B.C.E have been recovered in northern China, and the plant’s
use as a medicinal and mood altering agent dates back nearly as far.
archeologists in Central Asia discovered over two pounds of cannabis in the
2,700-year-old grave of an ancient [caucasian] shaman. After scientists
conducted extensive testing on the material’s potency, they affirmed,
“[T]he most probable conclusion … is that [ancient] culture[s]
cultivated cannabis for pharmaceutical, psychoactive, and divinatory
Like the famous quote
from Hassan-i Sabbah, a legendary hashish hero, the history of cannabis
concentrates is fraught with paradox, mystery, magic and intention. For example, in 2008, the 2700 year old
caucasian mummy, likely a shaman, was found with two pounds of cannabis extract
in the Gobi desert of China, of all places.
Also, Hassan-i Sabbah, an ancient
Persian mystic from the 11th century, was said to have lured candidates into
his army of assassins by having them ingest hash oil and giving
them women and riches while elated and satiated until they became loyal
There are even
recipes for a holy anointing oil in the Bible within Exodus 30, saying,
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: 500
shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant
cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 24 500 shekels of cassia — all
according to the sanctuary shekel — and a hin of olive oil. Make these into
a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be
the sacred anointing oil. . . . “Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so
they may serve me as priests.”
Skunkpharm, one of America’s leading researchers and educational
resources on cannabis, argues that the “cassia” listed in the above
recipe was commonly known as cannabis in the day in which it was written. This implies that ancient Christian
priests were anointing their bodies with marijuana oils.
This theory is made more intriguing
when considering the famous Oil of Abramelin of the revered and damned Aleister
Crowley, of British fame as a magician and trickster during the late
1800’s. The magical work of
Abramelin was an ancient and complex six month ritual used to bring the
magician to into full knowledge and conversation with his/her Holy Guardian
Angel (True Will in this life) by invoking and banishing all of the angels and
demons of Solomon’s Temple. The
aspirant was duly required to use the Oil of Abramelin in this and many other
rituals. The recipe for this oil
is very close to the one listed in Exodus:
“A recipe for Abramelin oil using essential oils is as
part cinnamon essential oil
parts myrrh essential oil
part calamus essential oil
part cassia essential oil
of the foregoing total weight olive oil” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abramelin_oil)
- As Crowley was a famous
advocate of hash (and of leaving out important magical details), as made
obvious in his book, “Diary of a Drug Fiend,” the possibility of this
hidden ingredient comes as little surprise. Furthermore, “The Holy Oil is the Aspiration of the Magician; it is that which
consecrates him to the performance of the Great Work [Knowledge and
Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel]; and such is its efficacy that it also
consecrates all the furniture of the Temple and the instruments thereof. It is
also the grace or chrism; for this aspiration is not ambition; it is a quality
bestowed from above. For this reason the Magician will anoint first the top of
his head before proceeding to consecrate the lower centres in their turn (…)
It is the pure light translated into terms of desire. It is not the Will of the
Magician, the desire of the lower to reach the higher; but it is that spark of
the higher in the Magician which wishes to unite the lower with itself.”
(wikipedia, oil of Abramelin).
- “According to some scholars, cannabis was an
ingredient of holy anointing oil mentioned in various sacred Hebrew texts. The
herb of interest is most commonly known as kanah-bosim (?????-??????) (the
singular form of which would be kaneh-bos which is mentioned several times in
the Old Testament as a bartering material, incense, and an ingredient in holy
anointing oil used by the high priest of the temple. The Septuagint translates
kaneh-bosm as calamus, and this translation has been propagated unchanged to
most later translations of the old testament. However, Polish anthropologist
Sula Benet published etymological arguments that the Aramaic word for hemp can
be read as kannabos and appears to be a cognate to the modern word ‘cannabis’
with the root kan meaning “reed” or hemp and bosm meaning
“fragrant”. Both cannabis and calamus are fragrant, reedlike plants
containing psychotropic compounds. Biblical scholars appear to be divided on
the subject; most reject the cannabis hypothesis, and others affirm it.”
The ability for hash
oil to soak into the dermal layer and penetrate deeply and quickly and have
profound topical and oral affects explains why the priests, magicians, and
shamans of the ages have been carrying it, cultivating it, and applying it to
their bodies, foreheads, and magical objects for protection and
illumination. The high associated
with oral use of cannabis extract also explains the reverence for the oil in a
nearly religious sense.
The most recent
findings listed in NORML data online illustrate
that hash oil, as well as straight cannabis smoke, have numerous well-documented
health benefits, including successfully treating brain tumors, arthritis, and
gastrointestinal reflux. The more
data that is revealed in standard Western scientific studies to substantiate
hash oil as powerful antioxidant, anti-carcinogen, the more modern people begin
to understand why this potent medicine was in the bag of many ancient shamans.
My recent foray into
researching cannabis concentrates led me to the Bay area dispensaries, to Los
Angeles, to Humboldt and Trinity counties, and to an underground competitive
cup of hash oils. I discovered
that while the cannabis extraction (wax and oil) market has overtaken the hash
one in popularity, the information in online threads was often contradictory and
incorrect, the popular trends in concentrates commonly misguided, and the
methods of extracting often dangerous and producing products possibly unfit for
California law conflicts itself, it is difficult to find validated information
or open sharing on production techniques.
It is also true that some methods of extraction are guarded by those who
have cornered sections of the market.
Realistically, the legal restrictions in California only further the
dangers of ill-conceived production, rather than preventing explosions, common
to inexperienced producers.
stated by the Delta 9 Collective, “Some contradiction and confusion lies in the exact legalities of
hash oil, honey oil and other types of hash made from solvents such as
isopropyl alcohol and butane gas. The production (meaning making) of hash and
honey oil is illegal, even under California’s medical laws. This is due to the
fact that unless the proper safety steps are utilized, making concentrate oils
with solvents can prove somewhat dangerous. However, hash and honey oil is
covered under Prop. 215 and SB 420 as a type of hash. This means that
dispensaries are able to sell it and you, the patient, are able to buy and
possess it, but it remains illegal to make it.”
This is a perfect example of the
doublespeak in current California Marijuana law. How can we legally possess, smoke, and sell concentrates if
it is illegal for ANYONE to make them?!
This law not only supports disinformation by promoting fear among the
makers of concentrates, but also limits information about properly producing
them, leading to MORE, not less dangerous procedures. Again, this elusive product is historically steeped in
controversy and cloaked with the cloudy words of legalese.
In researching the
market of concentrates, I found massive amounts of disinformation and extreme
resistance to scientific fact. The
madness of a market driven by trends rather than facts is infuriating for an
educated person. While in LA at a
hash convention, my friend and I smoked a dab of wax from a kiosk and both had
immediate hot flashes and restriction in breathing, likely because the product
was full of impurities or refined chemical fertilizer from an indoor grow. Furthermore, some of the wax on the
market at dispensaries is not actually tested before sale and may still contain
I witnessed a friend sell
wax to a dispensary who claimed they would immediately “test” it,
only to walk back in the door half an hour later and see it on the shelf for
sale. In fact, one 60 year old
friend who has been making wax for 30 years, told me that he made blonde wax
(without using any heat to purge the butane, preserving the color), and had it
lab tested, while it solely laid out on a table in a cool room, every month for
six months before the lab found it to be butane free. This shows that the preference for wax that is blonde in
color is a misguided one, because that can signify that it still contains butane
and likely other impurities, depending on the extraction methods.
I visited nearly 40
dispensaries in the Bay area and Los Angeles and found everything from simple
one room stores to vast glass cases full of historical bongs used by rock
stars, to wax bars stocked with cereal bowls full of varying substances, from
honeycomb to shard to puffy blonde cake.
Many of the salespeople were helpful, while others were clearly
misinformed about the products.
When I questioned one salesperson about her odd vitamin-style gelcap
CBD product, she could only tell me it was “weed.” I asked if it was wax or some other
form of concentrate and she said, “No, you can’t eat wax.” This is contrary to my experience as
I’ve eaten copious amounts of wax and oil, rubbed it all over my body in oils,
sprays, and tinctures, inside and out to successfully treat everything from
menstrual cramps to muscle spasms to insomnia.
To hear a counterperson insist that hash oil is not edible
was shocking. This, however, was
not the first misconception I came across. Another retail person told me that wax cannot be heated over
90 degrees during the production.
Again, I stared in disbelief.
I have friends in tropical climates that make wax all day in
temperatures above 90 degrees.
Cannabis does not vaporize until heated well over 100 degrees, although
oxidation, which merely affects the color of the wax, can occur at lower
temperatures. The market’s
insistence on blonde crumbly wax created at very low heat and humidity seems
purely cosmetic. And, while
crystal extractions may be easier to sprinkle upon a joint, there is nothing
wrong with gooey oil or crumbly concentrate, especially if you are dabbing or
vaporizing in a pen.
I recently discovered
hash oil while vacationing after a particularly stressful few months. My friend took me to the tropics and
handed me endless hash oil-laced joints.
It worked. I noticed after
a few days that it worked better than I expected, as many of my aches and pains
went away and my perpetual slight joint pain miraculously disappeared. My cells began to feel
inflammation-free, and my mind calm.
I noticed through my own felt sense that wax, being an essential oil
concentrate, free of mold, mildew, and other impurities, is the most potent
form of medical cannabis. I began
to research this discovery and found much data and anecdotes to support my
feelings. I even found that
several people have successfully treated infants with brain tumors by putting
hash oil on their pacifiers twice a day until the children went into complete
remission. The most famous
incident of childhood brain tumor remission, is that of Cash Hyde, in Missoula,
Montana. The infant had an
inoperable brain tumor and as his father said, “Cash proves that cannabis is true
medicine. It saved his
He was on adult doses of morphine and other narcotics, and they were killing
him. All of his organs had been fried by the chemo,” Mike said, adding that
doctors told him that brain damage was unavoidable at that point.”
Also, “Before we started the hemp
oil, he was not getting better. His skin was bright red and pealing like a
snake. You couldn’t touch him. His doctors said that was the best quality of
life they could offer and that we should expect him to get worse. They said
whatever you see on the outside is also happening on the inside to his organs.
They told me his odds of living through it without major brain or organ damage
was slim to none. They said he would be on dialysis the rest of his life.
Today, his liver and kidneys are at 100 percent.”
Sadly, the story ended in tragedy when
the Montana family could no longer obtain hash oil when the Feds cracked down
on local dispensaries and Cash died in 2011. “And while it was cancer that killed him, it was a 2011
change in Montana state law that denied him 73 days of access to the
medicine that had kept him alive to that point. That medicine was cannabis,
which Mike Hyde administered to his son at the risk of federal and state prison
As I synthesized all of this information, I
began to really grasp what a magical substance this cannabis essential oil is,
and why the ancients have used it for millennia for healing, protection and
purification. For further
reference from High Times on medical benefits of hash oil in effectively
treating addiction, “Another of Denver’s extraction experts is Daniel “Big D” de
Sailles, a partner at Top Shelf Extracts, who isn’t quite as skeptical. “I’m a
100 percent proponent of BHO [butane hash oil], because I’ve seen it make
people’s pain just evaporate,” he states. “As medicine, it helps with both harm
reduction — it practically cures withdrawal symptoms in people who are
alcoholics or addicted to speed or pharmaceuticals — and pain management. It
works every single time, and it’s easier to regulate your dosage. You take a
fraction of a percent of a gram, and you’re fully medicated and exactly where
you want to be.”(http://hightimes.com/read/dab-or-not-dab). This was reiterated to me in an
anecdotal story of one dispensary that gave free hash oil to meth addicts, with
an extremely high recovery rate over time.
Several months ago my
close friend made his first large batch of wax with a man who learned from his
uncle while in his teens. I tagged
along and witnessed the process with an amused curiosity. My friend who is now in his 30’s,
explained to me that the wax market has changed drastically since he
began. While once $100/gram, it is
now sold in dispensaries for $40-60 a gram and bought wholesale from the buyer
A market once
full of nearly black gooey oil in medical syringes is now full of blonde cakey
concentrates, crumbly waxes, orange crystals and shining amber shards of hard
shatter. What the market misses is
that these products are essentially the same, (albeit with varying flavors and
THC and CBD ratios), only presented in different enticing textures and
One differentiating factor
is the form that the patient chooses to ingest the product — from dab, to
smoking, to vaporizing.
Nevertheless, what I learned from the old-timer previously mentioned is
that bho appearing blonde in color is sometimes still chock full of butane,
because the purging process often oxidizes it enough to darken the
The popularity of this
blonde product stumped me at first because my friend’s product was refined for
weeks and still left a dark amber color, although blonde when first
extracted. The freshness and
purity of the original material also affects the color, as excess waterleaves
in trim and aging or rotting shake will darken the product. It is also true that different strains
affect the final color outcome, as OG strains often appear darker while SD
strains often produce a lighter shade of wax. Another factor is that outdoor weed, which is always higher
in CBD and antioxidant properties because it is grown in the elements and
withstands the stress of natural existence, usually creates a darker oil than
indoor weed. Again, this ironically,
supports the darker oils as equal if not superior products.
My friends bought an
eight ounce stainless steel three chamber Tamisium closed system essential oil
extractor, coffee filters, brillo pads (which they soon discarded for micron
filters), fans, heating pads, two vacuum pumps, two desiccation chambers, an
Excalibur food dehydrator, a cooler, hot plate, and a lot of small buds and
shake and began their grand experiment in BHO (butane hash oil) extraction
several months ago.
on equipment was steep, but worth every penny for the extra safety and high
quality product. They chose a
closed system extraction process because of the danger of blasting butane into
the air, the number of explosions reported over the last few months in hotel
rooms and houses leaving people with 3rd degree burns on their faces and hands,
and the ecological and cost-saving benefits of recapturing butane.
Shockingly, as written in Wired
Magazine in February of this year, “FEMA posted a rather
unexpected alert http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/emr-isac/infograms/ig2013/6-13.shtm#1 in
its emergency services bulletin titled “Hash Oil Explosions Increasing Across
US.” Alongside more quotidian warnings of cyber terrorism and industrial
vapor clouds, it described an uptick in explosions at apartments and hotel
rooms involving “a process using butane to extract and concentrate compounds
from marijuana,” destructive incidents that FEMA warned could even be
mistaken for pipe bomb or meth lab explosions.”
it takes nearly 45 minutes to recapture butane in an eight ounce machine, the
wait results in safety and peace of mind.
The Tasmisium extractor is argued to be the simplest and most efficient
extractor of its kind on the market and can be used for any essential oil from
hash, to lavender, to rosehip.
After many hours of
purifying their wax in vacuum chambers and hot water baths, they chose to
winterize it by further cleansing the butane with Everclear. They began by filling mason jars 10 to 1
(as recommended by the godly Skunkpharm lab, one of the few accurate sources of
scientific information on oil), and freezing it for 48 hours. Because they didn’t have a freezer on
hand, they filled a cooler with dry ice and put the product into a deep freeze
for 48 hours, separating out the waxes, chlorophyll, and plant material from
From research, I expected
the process to lighten the color of the product (to please the trendy market),
and make it more palatable for sale to a dispensary at a higher price. The end product, after straining
through organic coffee filters and Element rolling papers, was actually only
slightly lighter in shade, an amber color, but highly refined to the point that
the process was noticeable upon smoking.
Vaporizing BHO that has been treated with this much care and further
processed through winterization is a treat in taste and high. Although some of the original flavor of
the strain is lost in winterization, the product feels very clean when puffing
and elevates the mind to a pleasant and calm state, knowing that all impurities
have been excessively purged.
Also, post-winterization, the product is easier to use in the newly
popular vaporizing pens because it doesn’t gum up the mechanism with wax.
I came across in the hash oil market is that of butane versus CO2. The hippie market of San Francisco has
an increasing desire for CO2 oil, believing it to be cleaner and free of the
possibly carcinogenic impurities of butane and its neighboring chemicals,
especially in the form of lighter fluid.
N-Butane is free of other chemical impurities, but more difficult to
attain in small amounts and harder to explain to a gas company upon
Most head shops sell
lighter oil butane by the case, but none sell giant tanks of N-Butane. CO2 is quite another story. The contraptions to make CO2 hash oil
are expensive, rare, hard to acquire, and, therefore, difficult to receive
training on proper usage. There are
really only a handful of CO2 hash oil producers in the country, all of whom are
making bank off their product and off the concept that it is somehow
“cleaner” than BHO.
Although it’s golden liquid is coveted, I have found little evidence to
scientifically explain the advantage of CO2 over BHO oil.
Bobby Black outlines this longterm
discussion in his well-written recent article in High Times. “To Dab or not To Dab?.” “I looked through the National Library of Medicine database on
this, and there isn’t any evidence that inhaling residual hydrocarbons like
butane are dangerous — at least in small amounts,” says Dr. Melamede. And,
“”BHO has been around since the year 2000, so people have been dabbing for
a decade now and there haven’t been any real problems reported yet.”
Furthermore, one producer of CO2 oil
told me that another element is often used to keep the CO2 viscous enough for
vaporizing pens, when it is made to put into their refillable cartridges. Ironically, some producers use
glycerine for this purpose, while others use, none other than, propylene
glycol, an FDA approved petroleum product which liberals have railed against
Another reputable source is David McGhee, the
scientist owner of the Tamisium closed system essential oil extractor company
himself. On his company webpage in
the Q & A section, he answers a customer, “The
answer is yes you can use CO2 in this system only if you do not keep it a
closed system. Allowing the pressure to escape from the bottom tank will leave
you with a CO2 or Nitrogen or Oxygen only extraction capability. But why would
you want to use such a low efficient, lower yielding hard to manage High
Pressure GAS or High Pressure Liquid solvent when you could use liquid butane
which evaporates 100% clean and is non toxic as well and can be recovered. If
the FDA will allow it to be used to spray cooking oil into your skillet over an
open flame then I would steer clear of the more exotic low performance solvents
and stick with the high performance solvent. You can use Butane as the
extraction solvent, carrier solvent, transport solvent as a liquid and then
vaporize it away and or recover it. How much more performance do you need
without any detection it was ever used in any phase of the extraction
He also points out
that CO2 extraction is dangerous, the systems harder to attain, which usually
means there is little to no professional “training” available, and
that CO2 is always a dual solvent process anyway. Back to the drawing board…. Finding all of this information
certainly left me amazed when walking into dispensaries to see CO2 oil on the
shelves for TWICE the price of BHO, all at the cost of the public’s ignorance
on the topic.
Again, in this
research of my new favorite product, I was unsettled by the naivety of the hash
oil market in being swayed to overpay for CO2 oil, while overlooking BHO as
“impure.” What I have
found to be true is that the lighter shades of BHO may be impure, as little heat
was used to purge them and they may not be purged long enough to pass
testing. This only means that
suppliers should develop rapport with their buyers and get the product
Heat and vacuum
purging rapidly increase the rate of butane vaporization. I do feel that the winterization
process leaves the product nearly 100% purged of impurities, though it is
difficult to find continual evidence as each batch must be tested. One dispensary I visited claimed that
they test BHO until there are only zeros up to five numbers past the decibel in
butane particle presence.
BHO should be tested and purged but I believe there is very little evidence
that it is dangerous to the consumer.
The incidents I have found of people suffering from illnesses after
smoking BHO were all anecdotal, with zero scientific evidence to support
them. I have seen no medical
warning from any validated source on the topic. Again, as Bobby Black, in High Times reiterated, we smoke
weed using butane lighter fluid to light our bowls all the time — it is not a
One of the most
interesting developments in the hash oil industry is the popularity of Rick
Simpson oil. Rick Simpson has been
advocating hemp oil as a cancer cure for over a decade, and tirelessly
delivering hemp oil in plastic syringes free to cancer patients. He cured his own metastatic skin cancer
in 2003 using hemp oil internally.
He states,”Don’t expect a doctor
working inside the system to buck the system. The risks are still too
great! The advice she or he offers you is controlled by the large medical
industry that makes its money from expensive cancer fighting drugs and
treatments. It is an industry that doesn’t look favorably on natural
supplements or other cancer treatments that they cannot patent or make a large
profit from. Years from now the current conventional cancer treatments used by
doctors will on the whole be viewed in the same light that we view the old
medical practice of blood letting to cure illnesses.”
“He has met an absurd amount of opposition and
lack of support from Canadian authorities, as well as pharmaceutical companies,
government agencies for health, and UN offices. Despite that fact, Rick
Simpson has successfully treated over 5,000 patients (free of charge), and
believes that all forms of disease and conditions are treatable. He states that
it is common to have all types of cancer and diseases cured with the use of
high quality hemp oil as a treatment.” He also has found that regular use of
hemp oil often makes people feel 20-30 years younger.
In addition, hash oil
can be made with very low THC, high CBD strains that result in a refined
antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic product for treating multiple serious illnesses
while retaining an ordinary state of consciousness. This is clearly a wave of the future in medical
treatment. I even recently heard
that scientists have successfully developed methods for fully separating out
the THC from the plant, leaving only pure CBD extract.
However, as an advocate of herbal
medicine, I wonder about the value of picking and choosing elements from
nature’s apothecary with a modern and efficient disdain for all of nature’s
complexity. While essential oils
concentrate the purest elements of plants, chemical replication and separation
play God with nature’s bounty, like GMO crops, separating out one affect or
another at will. Over and over, we
seem to find that tinkering too much with nature brings us back to her in the
end. And, although we have bred
cannabis to be massively high in THC, I do believe that the presence of THC is
a helpful aspect of this medicine for the rapid pace of our modern culture.
Again, I think of the
brilliant yet controversial Crowley, who single-handedly synthesized many of
the world’s magical belief systems, from kabbalah to the Tao Te Ching, to
Catholicism, into a sort of pantheistic practice and presented the information
in charts of magical correspondence.
He did not “take out” the dark and scary parts, he brought
them all in. He did not turn away
from the demons, the shadows of the psyche, or the THC and color of hash oil,
he called them all out by name, each by each, and integrated them.
Similar in magical resonance in respect
to nature’s apothecary, I believe Westerners are only beginning to bridge the
gaps between ancient holistic knowledge and modern linear thinking with
scientific proof and legal support.
I believe that ancient Christian priests may have anointed themselves
bodily with hash oil and covered their sacred objects in its magical residue
and that ancient European shamans carried cannabis concentrates across giant
mountains for a damned good reason.
We are just beginning to relearn what these people already knew;
cannabis oil is a truly magical substance that has stood the test of time and
is capable of healing a variety of maladies — physical and psychological,
mental and spiritual. As I drop a
dab into my vaporizing pen and puff, I would be wise to pray to the hash gods,
for they have certainly withstood the test of time.
news report on 2700 yr old shaman mummy with hash.
old Caucasian shaman mummy found in China with marijuana.
Sabbah, an ancient Persian figure revered for his mystical and military powers
and use of hash oil.
on Holy Anointing Oil from Exodus, the Bible on Skunkpharm’s website.
of this country’s leading sources of accurate information on cannabis
extraction and research.
Wikipedia on Abramelin oil, British ceremonial
magician, Aleister Crowley’s recommended anointing oil for magickal
educated sounding evidence behind the mistranslation of cannabis into
“cassia/calamus,” due to translation.
website and specifically its long list of Western studies using marijuana and
extracts to successfully treat illness.
the Law. Hash and Concentrates.
Independent article on Cash Hyde, the famous child who went into remission from
an inoperable brain tumor using hash oil.
SF Weekly article on Cash Hyde and the tragedy of his death due to
inaccessible medicine. (There are
MANY articles on this case).
FEMA issues warnings about BHO open system explosions taking out hotel
rooms, apartments, and leaving 3rd degree burns on people who are often
Bobby Black’s excellent High Time’s article on hash oil.
of Tamisium closed system extractors for making essential oils.
“A Tamisium Extractor is the first commercially produced
low temperature, low pressure extractor designed to use a liquid hydrocarbon as
the primary extracting solvent and RECOVER IT for reuse safely, easily and
(Rick Simpson book website)
Simpson book website
information on Rick Simpson’s mission.
for Safe Access – key up-to-date information on marijuana policy.
Image by Symic, courtesy of Creative Commons license.