HASHISH

COMMON NAMES: black Russian, hash, W, quarter moon, soles

Hashish, the Mercedes-Benz of cannabis preparations, is a heavy-weight, -double-fisted -version of its weaker sister, marijuana. Usually referred to as hash, it could just as easily be called giant grass or wallop wend. Both marijuana and hashish. come from the. same hardy plant, Cannabis sativa, but hash contains: about eight times the amount of THC as grass. THC, delta-9-tetrahydroeannabinol, is the psychoactive ingredient that makes marijuana and hash different from ragweed or crabgrass.

The stronger potency of hash makes it the only cannabis 'derivative' that can produce mild hallucinogenic effects. It may well be the safest trip you can take, however, since, like grass, hash is a nontoxic, non-narcotic, natural substance that is: nonaddicting. Hash produces no permanent mental or physical damage and has never caused a single substantiated death. The usual consequence of an overdose is no more than a long, deep sleep.

Hashish is processed resin from the cannabis plant, mixed with some of the plant's fiber, water, or animal and vegetable ails to bind it together. It looks like a hard lump of rock, since the resin hardens after being extracted from the mature plant. These lumps of rock come in different shapes. Some look like pebbles, some are long and rounded tike fingers, others flat and slatelike. Hash can be a light ocher brown, a deeper cocoa color, or ebony black, depending on the strength of the resin and the binder used. It can be crumbly , to the touch or so hard that a knife or razor blade will be needed to cut off, a smokable hunk. Usually smoked in a pipe or sprinkled into tobacco or marijuana, it has a heavy cannabis smell and taste.

Most hash is smuggled into the United States from North Africa, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. These mountainous areas are the world's "Hash Basket," since their similar altitudes, temperatures, and sun conditions are ideal for resin production. Cheap labor ;is another necessary ingredient, as hash takes an enormous number of man-hours to process. The resin is gathered in the summer months by hand-rubbing cannabis plants and forming little beads of gooey hash. Repeated rubbing forms enough beads to make balls or fingers of the sticky, aromatic stuff. When properly rubbed, the plant lives on and continues to produce resin until the seasonal rains bring an end to harvesting. Not exactly a part-time hobby, it actually takes about two. months of this painstaking process to produce -a -single kilo (2.2 pounds) of hash for the world's waiting pipes. This laborious process also affects the drug's market price and availability. Street prices range up to $125 an ounce, or $10 a gram ('In of an ounce). For this-higher-than-grass price one gets extra THC, up to 14 percent of it, which can be a bargain. Most weak varieties of marijuana available in America have only 1 percent of the magic ingredient, with super-potent strains containing about percent.

The only proved physical effect of hashish is a reddening of the eyes and a temporary and slightly increased heartbeat. It can be an intoxicant, relaxant, mild hallucinogen, or appetite enhancer, buts so chemically and psychologically unique that it defies categorization.

When smoked, its creeping pleasant haze can be felt almost immediately. As with marijuana, it tends to act more slowly if ingested orally as an ingredient in brownies or other foods.

Effects may not be felt for an hour or so after eating hash, but be careful. It is easy to ingest too much in food form, since there is no reliable way of knowing how much is brownie and how much is hash.

Hash is usually smoked in commercially sold "hash pipes," made of wood, metal, or stone, or in exotic-looking waterpipes and hookahs, which help regulate intake while cooling the harsh smoke.

After a dose (anywhere from a few inhalations, or "takes," to a gram) has been smoked or eaten, a heavy-headed glee may seem to paint the world a rosy pink. Such a world is a distortion of reality, of course, and distorted perceptions are commonly experienced by the toker during his one-to-three hour high, along. with an intensification of the usual marijuana effects (see Marijuana). Sense of space and time is somewhat distorted, so that what has seemed to be hours of joy may turn out to be no more than minutes.

The body tingles, or may feel weighted with lead, as the mind- races chaotically in several directions at once. Smells, tastes, colors, and sounds all merge into one field of sensitivity that blends looking, eating, touching, and listening into a symphony of sensual pleasures. Waves of relaxation course through :body and mind'. Everything seen and done provides added enjoyment. Friends may sit together. and giggle over inane remarks that seem to be the mark of genius. These are not likely to reflect anything more profound than stoned-out smiles, but the conviviality the drug causes is real. Some people turn inward,' rather than outward, with their introspective fantasies, and- can be left safely in a corner to ruminate over their interior monologues.

The difference between grass and hash is in the degrees of distortion they produce. With hash, that distortion may reach mild hallucinogenic proportions, not unlike a trip on a light dose of LSD or mescaline. Some people call that an overdose, others call it nirvana. It all depends on the user and his reaction to loss of reality control. Hallucinating makes the world contort and mutate into sometimes unrecognizable forms, shapes, and thoughts that can either scare or amuse, depending on who you are and where you're at. Faces may look, grotesque or the mind can put on a blazing light show.

Since the tripper brings his entire being ,with him on his journey, latent or overt psychotics or brain-damaged or emotionally disturbed people should not experiment with such extreme states of consciousness. Enjoyable, exciting delusions -that one is a powerful sensory machine, for example, can, in -tire imbalanced or inexperienced tripper, turn into intense anxiety or paranoia--results which are neither enjoyable nor exciting. Hash by no means always causes hallucinations, but stoking enough' of it or, more likely, eating a large amount can intensify the reaction to a state of mild tripping. If intake -is limited, the user ends up in a gentle but insistent state of dreamy daffiness without the disorientation of hallucination.

You'll know you have an unhappy tripper on your hands if he is in a panic of confusion and, delirium, a very rare psychotic reaction that happens to about five out of every thousand users. Treat the bum tripper with comfort and undemanding. As with any other bad head trip, explaining to the tripper that the cause of his panic is the drug, and not something within himself, can often help. Try to change the environment. Turn on some lights if it is dark, or turn them down if they are too bright. You may want to talk to the overdoser about the problems or visions that seem so overwhelming to him. Distract him with small talk. Do not use medication. The panic lasts only as long as the high, so in less than three hours calm should prevail. When he does calm down, he may fall into a deep, coma like sleep for up to eighteen hours. Sleep is Mother Nature's way of saying you have had too much. A groggy hangover will be the only aftereffect to deal with the morning after. Memory returns, eyes clear back to white, and the room stops spinning as soon as   , the high wears off. Only a slight tolerance to hash accrues -with heavy use. Usually the same dose will have the same effect each time. There has been no indication that hash is addictive. or causes withdrawal symptoms.

Hashish has been used medically for centuries, particularly in Africa and Asia, as an anesthetic or pain reliever for dozens -of common maladies. Often sifted and granulated to produce a tincture with alcohol, it was prescribed as a medicant before marijuana fear campaigns made hash an unpopular and illegal substance throughout the world. In the late nineteenth century, particularly after police cracked down on opium dens, it became quite popular in America. The death of the opium den ushered in the birth of the hashish house, where smokers could inhale the drug in elegant surroundings that enhanced the sensuous state induced by hash through the strategic placement of light, sound, and odors. Every large city had several of these plush digs for dopers. The experimenting elite flocked to these commercial halls, many of which had thriving brothels upstairs.

Earliest known use of hashish was as a ritual intoxicant in the Muslim Kingdom around 100 A.D. Associated with religious revolutionaries, it invoked the wrath and scorn of orthodox officials, who tried to ban it. Hashish was thought of as the drug of choice of various heretics, barbarians, and murderous cults, and thus was banned because of who was using it, rather than for what it was.

Hash smoke, particularly when inhaled in conjunction with tobacco, smoke, can result in severe respiratory ailments, such as bronchitis. Smoke, in any font, is not likely to increase longevity, but cooling hash smoke in a water pipe may help to reduce the damage. Evidence exists that prolonged heavy use results in psychological dependence--dependence that has led to thousands of burnt-out "hash heads" congregating in Skid Row-type byways in India and North Africa. This type of obsessive and degenerative hash use is almost nonexistent in America.

The largest single headache hash causes. is the very serious migraine the user s likely to get from his possible arrest and imprisonment. It is illegal in all fifty states, although the degree of enforcement and the penalties imposed upon those prosecuted and found guilty vary from one state to another. Penalties largely coincide with those governing marijuana, with fines or imprisonment of up to one year for possession of small quantities. Some states still classify hashish with more dangerous and addictive narcotics and impose correspondingly harsher sentences-up to-twenty-five years. Contrary to what returning tourists may say, it is also illegal in India, Nepal, Holland, and Denmark. In- those countries, however, limited smoking may be officially tolerated in hashish bars or certain restricted areas. Most European countries can and will impose stiff sentences on unsuspecting tourists who figure on going native. Caution and a level head are always one's best allies when using- illicit -drugs, so bring your brains with you if contemplating the illegal.