It’s in the nature of human beings to be curious. Without that quality we wouldn’t have progressed as a species or made any of the advancements we’ve so boldly made. From monumental strides in travel, communication, and technology to knowledge of our bodies and medicine, the world wouldn’t be the same without that little voice whispering in the back of our mind, questioning what more is out there for us to discover.

Consider cannabis. Human curiosity has certainly tampered with nature’s original formula as we aim to produce more potent strains of the herb. The utilization of cannabis extracts dates back many centuries in multiple Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures. Hashish, or hash, was created by separating cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from the whole flower, which highly influenced the way that people consumed cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes.

Secrets unlocked

The truth is in the trichomes. You may recognize them as the snowy crystals that appear on the surfaces of cannabis buds, giving them that extra special visual WOW factor. Trichomes are packed with resin containing THC, the psychoactive agent within the flower that provides the uplifting, cerebral effects you may have heard or read about.

Ways of separating THC from plant matter and creating hash vary in effectiveness and potency. One method common in Morocco and Lebanon is to beat and shake the flower tops over fine mesh screens, catching the trichomes in baskets beneath, and then to form the sticky particles together into slabs with a little heat and hand pressure. In India, buds are rolled in the hands or a piece of leather until the resin can be scraped off and pressed into blocks.

Once complete, the resin, or kief, takes the form of a pressed brick or rock-looking substance that can then be broken down into doses for consumption. You can eat, smoke, vaporize, or infuse it into bhang, a traditional ceremonious cannabis beverage that has been drunk in India for hundreds of years.

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According to National Geographic, “Smoking hash gives users a quicker, shorter high than they get from eating it. The effects of smoking hash are felt within minutes, generally peaking in 10-30 minutes, and wearing off in two to three hours. Eating hash generally takes 30-60 minutes before the effects kick in, but the high can last up to six hours.”

Hashish production concentrates on high levels of THC, putting a large emphasis on that one particular cannabinoid, while there are more than 100 others that help make cannabis as magical as it is. While THC concentration in buds is typically 15 to 20 percent and peaks at just over 30, in hashish it’s about twice as much. In some consumers’ experience, smoking hash or concentrates can overload or desensitize the CB receptors, making it difficult to gain desired THC effects later from regular herb. So, when you compare hash to whole flower, is one or the other better for the body and mind?

Hashing out the effects

The entourage effect was pieced together by Ethan Russo, a leading neuroscientist. In essence, the term “entourage effect” describes the synergy of the various cannabinoids and other molecules in cannabis in complementing one another’s actions. Doctors who understand the entourage effect would rather recommend all-natural whole cannabis flower for their patients than single-molecule pharmaceuticals like Marinol and Sativex, to get the full spectrum of phytochemicals present in the plant. Without knowing all there is to know about their individual effects, and with hundreds of different terpenes and cannabinoids intricately interacting, the question arises: “Is it really the wisest choice to break the ‘chain of command’ with enhancements and concentrates?”

There’s no one right answer. For those looking to get and stay as high as possible, with little regard for the ebb and flow of the herb’s effects, products like hashish may be the way to go. People seeking a more holistic bond with the herbal experience or an effective, long-lasting alternative to certain pharmaceutical medications may want to keep whole flower in mind. (Always obey local laws.)

There is still so much to learn about cannabis and the way it affects our bodies, which is why there are scientists around the world dedicated to unlocking its full potential. As long as we stay curious, there remains hope that the truth, to the extent we are able to perceive it, will be progressively revealed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Garyn AngelGaryn Angel is an inventor, award-winning financial consultant, and CEO of MagicalButter.com, maker of the botanical extractor he invented for infusing cannabis into foods. Firmly committed to needed legal reform, Angel was named to the exclusive CNBC NEXT LIST of visionary global business leaders for his work on legal marijuana. He is also founder of the Cheers to Goodness Foundation, a charity that helps “medical refugees”—mainly veterans and children—who need herbal therapy when traditional treatment options have failed.