In Canada and many other countries in the world we are currently rediscovering the medical applications of cannabis.
Hash or keef is a concentration of resin glands, and therefore is a more potent product than cannabis itself. As a result, less smoke is needed to achieve the desired effects. Cannabis resin is contained in the gland formed atop a trihome stalk. This trichome grows as an extension of the plant. In this resin we find many of the active ingredients found in the cannabis plant, such as 66 cannabinoids, 120 terpenoids (the essential oil and fragrant aroma of cannabis) and many other constituents. There has been speculation that some of these ingredients may mitigate the carcinogenic effects of smoke inhalation.
There are various ways to isolate the trichomes from the plant. Charas or hand-rub is achieved by rubbing the flowering plant between your hands, then collecting the resin by rubbing your hands together until the hash starts to stick and form a ball. A more common method is screening the dried flowers (and leaves too!) on a fine screen such as nylon or stainless steel mesh. The known screen acts as a filter to separate the trichomes from the plant material. Once you have isolated trichomes, you can smoke this powder (also known as keef) as is or continue the process and press it together to make hash. Water extraction uses the principle of density to isolate the resin glands. By agitating the cannabis in ice water, the trichomes are knocked off the plant material and sink, they are then separated and collected on screens. Although THC and other cannabinoids are not water-soluble, many of the terpenoids are, therefore you may not get as much flavour, but the desired effects are well maintained. Since we know that resin glands contain the active ingredients of the cannabis plant, it should be noted that they are easily lost. Every time you handle the cannabis flower, you are losing trichomes. By storing your cannabis in jars or stash boxes you can reduce much of this loss.
A current favourite is breaking up the cannabis on a fine stainless steel screen and collecting the finest and tastiest keef in addition to enjoying the whole plant product. When we bring up cannabis as a medicine, we are forced to look at a balance of harms versus benefits.
Hash, keef, cookies, tincture, vapourizers, and various other safe methods of delivery for cannabis make it a unique and versatile home remedy.