[Canniseur: 46% THC??? Holy cow!!! This is a terrific video that shows how this couple is growing hydroponic potent weed. This stuff clocks in at well over 40%!!!! That’s a little high (pun intended) to me, but it’s purportedly really good. 40% THC weed is like drinking a 20% Pinot Noir (since it’s Oregon). Maybe this is worth trying out or maybe it’s just too heavy an effect. Who knows? But it’s fascinating.]
[Canniseur: The author of this article is a well known long-time grower in … well, if we told you … As a former illegal and now legal grower, she does raise some fascinating points. We usually only remember the good things when looking backward, but there was a lot of bad. Now, former illegal growers during the time of cannabis prohibition have some really valuable things to say and the young growers seem to be listening. There’s hope yet for quality.]
It’s easy to complain in these dark days of the emerging legal cannabis industry. There seems to be no limit of negative stories about how the combination of state and county taxes and regulations are bringing us down and, that as a result, the corporate giants may take over the cannabis world. As we witness the demise of so many of our colleagues’ brands and businesses, it is tempting to hide our heads in a pile of weed and cry for the good old days.
But wait a minute. Who’s to say we won’t be yearning for the present times in the future? I have no doubt that exhausted gold miners back in 1850 often kicked themselves for leaving comfortable homes in other parts of the world in their quest for treasure in the mountains and rivers of California. The difficulties they encountered as they eked out meager quantities of gold dust, while living in hardscrabble conditions, make our lives look like Easy Street. Yet I can guarantee that 30 years later, as they drank champagne in elegant San Francisco drinking establishments, they yearned for the “good old days when we were simple miners.” Time has a way of glorifying the past and burning away the hardships.
Yes indeed, we can reminisce for hours about being cannabis outlaws and about how easy it was to grow it, dry it, trim it and stick it in a plastic bag and sell it right away. No taxes, no fancy packaging, no rules and regulations to fret about. Yet how easy it is to forget the stress that came along with living illegal lives, with never being able to fully be ourselves when out in public. We humans tend to see the past through rose colored glasses, ignoring the daily anxieties when they don’t fit into the perfect picture. In retrospect, life was pretty darn good. Even though we were pioneers, we certainly had it easier than the forty-niners. Plus we had the bonus of getting high on great weed. But honestly, life back in the early days of growing cannabis certainly had its challenges.
Likewise, right now as we struggle through this quagmire of new regulations, we have challenges that seem overwhelming. However, I am not the only one who is starting to feel a slight let-up in the doldrums of daily issues. Or maybe more realistically, we are just becoming familiar with them and learning how to cope in a more relaxed fashion. As more time passes, I trust we will adjust to the new system and hopefully new and better ones will fall into place. Before long, we’ll be fondly remembering the good old days right after legalization in 2018. “How innocent we were,” we’ll chuckle with knowing smiles.
What at present may seem like a tremendous burden becomes a glorious memory as time passes. The few of us craft farmers who are still standing in this business are already reflecting on what we have been through and how we have made it this far. “Remember that year they changed the packaging wording three times?” We are the pioneers of the legal cannabis business in California. We are the core group of tenacious companies dedicated to surviving and committed to sharing the best of the best with the rest of the world. We are still riding the roller coaster. We’re in for the long haul and proud of it.
So while we may be bitching today about adapting to the changes, I have no doubt that in the future we will be bragging about it. Already journalists come to the survivors asking for stories of the transition to being legal. Documentaries are being made and cannabis museums are opening in a few places across the state. We are history, while we continue to make history and the world wants to know the stories.
It’s quite an odd feeling, one day you are a young and vital member of your community and in the blink of an eye you become a “respected elder.” How did that happen? I often wonder if those wonderful fellow outlaw/grower friends who are no longer in their bodies were still alive, what would they think? So many stories are lost with them. Nevertheless, it is up to us to carry on as best we can and tell our own stories.
To that end, a group is beginning to form here in the Emerald Triangle, spearheaded by the indomitable Pebbles Trippet. To quote Pebbles, who has been a peace and cannabis activist since the early 60s, there is a need for “An elders council of the cannabis community that embodies the knowledge of the whole derived from decades of experience from the underground. By gathering that knowledge, we can better prepare for the unknown future.”
What is especially heartwarming are the younger folks nurturing the process. They recognize the value of the lessons to be garnered from the elders. Thanks to people from the younger generations, such as Casey O’Neill, Jenn Procacci and Phoebe Smith, a few gatherings have already been held with ideas and stories shared. This feeling of respect for all is definitely part of the “good new days” and a great step into a bright new future.
[Canniseur: OK, cannabis crop growers who are growing for adult use or medical use cannot put a “USDA Organic” label on their product. Given the Schedule 1 state of cannabis, there’s no reason this company couldn’t set up a list of regulations, get together with other states where medical and/or adult-use is available and make a set of regulations for growers that would give them a “PGA Organic” certification along with a little label to put on packaging. Just ask me what PGA stands for if you can’t figure it out.;-) The point is this could be an almost national certification, done privately.]
Cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC is not eligible for USDA organic certification, due to the crop’s Schedule I status. While some hemp farmers are currently on the path to obtain a USDA organic certification, the rest of the cannabis industry is left without that ability.
Growers, producers, manufacturers and dispensaries that utilize the same practices as the national organic program should be able to use that to their advantage in their marketing. Ian Rice, CEO of Envirocann, wants to help cannabis companies tap into that potential with what he likes to call, “comparable to organic.”
Rice co-founded SC Laboratories in 2010, one of the first cannabis testing labs in the world, and helped develop the cannabis industry’s first testing standards. In 2016, Rice and his partners at SC Labs launched Envirocann, a third-party certification organization, focused on the quality assurance and quality control of cannabis products. Through on-site inspections and lab testing, Envirocann verifies and subsequently certifies that best practices are used to grow and process cannabis, while confirming environmental sustainability and regulatory compliance.
“Our backyard in Santa Cruz and the central coast is the birthplace of the organic movement,” says Rice. California Certified Organic Farms (CCOF), founded in Santa Cruz more than 40 years ago, was one of the first organizations in the early 1990s that helped write the national organic program.
“What we came to realize in the lab testing space and as the cannabis market grew, was that a lot of cannabis companies were making the organic claims on their products,” says Rice. “At the time, only one or two organizations in the cannabis space were making an attempt to qualify best practices or create an organic-type feel of confidence among consumers.” What Rice saw in their lab was not cannabis that could be considered organic: “We saw products being labeled as organic, or with certain claims of best practices, that were regularly failing tests and testing positive for banned chemicals. That really didn’t sit well with us.”
At the time, there was no real pathway to certify cannabis products and qualify best practices. “We met with a few people at the CCOF that were very encouraging for us to adopt the national organic program’s standards for cannabis. We followed their lead in how to adopt the standards and apply a certification, building a vehicle intended to certify cannabis producers.”
Because of their background in lab testing they added the requirement for every crop that gets certified to undergo a site inspection, sampling, as well as a pesticide residue test to confirm no pesticides were used at all during the production cycle. One of their clients is Coastal Sun Farms, a greenhouse and outdoor cannabis producer. “They grow incredible products at a high-level, commercial scale at the Enviroganic standard,” says Rice. “They have been able to prove that organic cannabis is economically viable.”
The Envirocann certification goes a bit beyond the USDA’s organic program in helping their clients with downstream supply chain risk management tools (SCRM). “Because of the rigorous testing of products to get certified and go to market, we are getting way ahead of supply chain or production issues,” says Rice. “That includes greater oversight and transparency, not just for marketing the final product.”
A good example of using SCRM to a client’s advantage is in the extraction business. A common scenario recently in the cannabis market involves flower or trim passing the pesticide tests at the lab. But when that flower makes it down the supply chain to a manufacturer, the extraction process concentrates chemical levels along with cannabinoid levels that might have previously been acceptable for flower. “I’ve witnessed millions and millions of dollars evaporate because flower passed, but the concentrated final product did not,” says Rice. “We’ve introduced a tool to get ahead of that decision-making process, looking beyond just a pass/fail. With our partner labs, we look at the chromatograms in greater detail beyond regulatory requirements, which gives us information on trace levels of chemicals we may be looking for. It’s a really rigorous audit on these sites and it’s all for the benefit of our clients.”
Envirocann has also recently added a processing certification for the manufacturing sector and a retail certification for dispensaries. That retail certification is intended to provide consumers with transparency, truth in labeling and legitimate education. The retail certification includes an assessment and audit of their management plan, which goes into details like procurement and budtender education, as well as basic considerations like energy usage and waste management.
While Envirocann has essentially adopted the USDA’s organic program’s set of standards for what qualifies organic producers, which they call “Enviroganic,” they also certify more conventional producers with their “Envirocann” certification. “While these producers might not be considered organic farmers, they use conventional methods of production that are responsible and deserve recognition,” says Rice. “A great example for that tier would be Fog City Farms: They are growing indoor with LED lighting and have multiple levels in their indoor environment to optimize efficiency and minimize their impact with waste and energy usage, including overall considerations for sustainability in their business.”
[Canniseur: WOW! If you’ve ever eaten at or heard of the French Laundry, you’ll know that their dedication to quality … in everything … is supreme. The vegetables from the French Laundry garden are always stellar. If Mr. Keefer can cultivate cannabis with the same attention to quality as he did for the French Laundry, we’ll have a phenomenal grower in California.]
He is known for his succulent micro greens, but after 10 years at French Laundry, the restaurant’s head culinary gardener is moving on to — if not greener, then certainly danker — pastures. Aaron Keefer has been named Sonoma County craft cannabis endeavor Sonoma Hill Farms’ vice president of cannabis cultivation and operations.
You may remember Sonoma Hill Farms as the first cannabis cultivators to receive a business permit to grow weed in Sonoma County. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the company has the inside rail on getting its cultivation approval from the government. The company’s plan is to provide the kind of elite, locavore gourmet experience found in Sonoma’s most emblematic culinary and wine businesses.
As such, Keefer would appear to be just the person for the job. He comes from a farm-owning family and graduated from culinary school at 17. Keefer would go on to manage the gardening operations for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. The company has businesses in Las Vegas, Miami, and New York, in addition to the company’s five eatery mini-empire in Yountville (which includes French Laundry, Bouchon Bistro, Bouchon Bakery, La Calenda, and Ad Hoc + Addendum.)
From Veg to Herb
Keefer spent much of his time at the company in the Yountville dirt. He came to raise some very pretty veggies — and even on occasion, some very tasty escargot — which became a key draw at French Laundry’s three Michelin star winning, farm-focused fine dining experience and the rest of the Keller holdings.
Now, he’ll be applying that green thumb and savvy for glamorously sustainable sustenance at Sonoma Hill, which announced in October that it had received a conditional use permit for a 28,560 foot outdoor marijuana garden and 15,000 feet of indoor grow facilities, and is now gearing up for its first harvest.
“Much like growing grapes for the finest wines, we plan to take an artisanal approach to cultivation through the cannabis we have been permitted to grow in this incredible terroir,” said a partner in Sonoma Hills Farms’ parent company Petaluma Hill Farms, Sam Magruder, in a press statement announcing the facility’s successful permitting.
A memo announcing Keefer’s hiring notes that the chef grew his first cannabis plants at age 15.
“Craft cannabis cultivation has long been on my radar as a dream job,” Keefer said in a press statement. “And with the plant becoming mainstream and more accepted, I know the time is right.”
“Done right, cannabis cultivation is a true connoisseurship not seen in many businesses other than wine, whisky, mescal, and cigars,” continued Keefer.
The project’s organizers may well be hoping that Sonoma County foodie and wino tourists are ready to include a finely grown toke on their next trip to the area. Part of Keefer’s workload will include giving visitors a chance to learn more about cannabis as a plant.
To that end, the French Laundry alum will be creating an on-site culinary garden “to showcase how cannabis is synergistic with traditional farming and can be integrated into a farm-to-table lifestyle,” as the press statement put it.
[Canniseur: Leaf surface temperature? Really? Yes, even though this might seem a bit granular, it’s a thing when growing indoors. Obviously you can’t control this when growing outside where it really doesn’t matter because a grower can’t do anything about the sunlight falling on a plant. But inside, every single aspect of optimally growing cannabis is important. So yeah, I guess leaf surface temperature does matter.]
Every detail counts at an indoor grow facility. Indoor growers have complete control over nearly every aspect of their crop, ranging from light intensity to air circulation. Among the most important factors to regulate is temperature. While ambient air temperature is critical, growers will also want to measure leaf surface temperature (LST).
To illustrate, let’s say you keep your living room at a cozy 76 degrees. Then, if you place a thermometer under your tongue – your body is (hopefully) not at 76 degrees but is likely between a healthy temperature of 97 to 99 degrees.
A similar story can be told for cannabis plants grown indoors. A grow facility’s ambient air is often different than the plants’ LST. Finding an ideal LST for plant growth can be complex, but modern technology, including spectrally tunable LED grow lights, can simplify monitoring and maintaining this critical aspect.
Why Should Growers Care About LST?
Temperature plays a pivotal role in plant health. Many biochemical reactions contributing to growth and survival only occur within an ideal temperature range. If temperatures dip or spike dramatically, growers may witness inhibited growth, plant stress or irreversible damage to their crops.
The leaf is among the most important plant structures as it’s where most metabolic processes happen. Therefore, finding an optimum LST can improve growth rate and the production of metabolites such as pigments, terpenes, resins and vitamins.
Because many plants rely on their leaves for survival, it makes sense that leaves have their own temperature regulation system. Evaporation through pores in the leaf – known as stomata – can cool the plant through a process called transpiration. Up to 90% of water absorbed is used for transpiration, while 10% is used for growth.
The efficacy of transpiration is determined by the vapor pressure deficit (VPD), which refers to the relative humidity in the ambient air compared to the relative humidity in the leaf. If relative humidity is low, the VPD can be too high, which may cause plants to have withered, leathery leaves and stunted growth. On the other hand, a low VPD correlates to high relative humidity, and can quickly result in disease and mineral deficiencies. Higher humidity often results in a higher LST as transpiration may not be as effective.
When it comes to LST, growers should follow these basic guidelines:
Most cannabis plants’ LST should fall between 72 and 86 degrees – generally warmer than the ambient air.
LST varies depending on individual cultivar. For example, plants that have evolved in colder climates can generally tolerate cooler temperatures. The same can be said for those evolved in equatorial or temperate climates.
CO2 availability also plays a role in LST; CO2 generally raises the target temperature for photosynthesis.
How Does Light Spectrum Affect LST?
We know that CO2 concentration, specific genetic markers and ambient temperature all play an important role in moderating LST. But another important factor at an indoor grow is light spectrum – especially for those using spectrally tunable LEDs. Growers will want to optimize their light spectrum to provide their crop with ideal conditions.
A combination of red and blue wavelengths is shown to have the greatest impact on photosynthesis and, thus, LST. Photons found along the green and yellow wavelengths may not be absorbed as efficiently and instead create heat.
Optimized light spectrums – those with an appropriate balance between red and blue light – create more chemical energy instead of heat, thereby resulting in a lower LST. Using fixtures that are not spectrally tuned for plant growth, on the other hand, can waste energy and ultimately contribute to a higher LST and ambient temperature, negatively affecting plant growth. Consequently, measuring LST doesn’t only indicate ideal growing conditions but also indirectly illustrates the efficiency of your grow lights.
LED fixtures already run at a lower temperature than other lighting technologies, so indoor growers may need to raise the ambient temperature at their grow facilities to maintain ideal LST. Switching to spectrally tuned LEDs may help growers cut down on cooling and dehumidifying costs, while simultaneously improving crop health and productivity.
What’s the Best Way to Measure LST?
There are several tools available for growers to measure LST, ranging from advanced probes to specialty cameras. However, many of these tools provide a reading at a specific point, rather than the whole leaf, leading to some inaccuracies. Temperature can dramatically vary across the leaf, depending if parts are fully exposed to the light or in the shadows.
Investing in a forward-looking infrared camera (FLIR) gives indoor growers a more accurate picture of LST and light efficiency. That being said, growers should not only measure leaves at the top of the plant, but across the middle and bottom of the plant as well. That way, growers receive a complete snapshot of growing conditions and can make changes as needed.
At an indoor grow facility, it’s not enough to only measure ambient room temperature. Of course, this aspect is important, but it will paint an incomplete picture of plant health. Measuring LST gives growers nuanced insights as to how plants respond to their environment and how they can better encourage resilient, healthy growth.
Using spectrally tunable LEDs makes achieving LST easier and more cost-effective. Lights with optimized spectrums for plant growth ensure no energy is wasted – resulting in superior performance and efficiency.
[Canniseur: I’ve seen cannabis that claimed to be ‘organically grown’ on the shelves in several states. While it’s nice to see that some growers are concerned that organic growing practices are important, nobody has any idea what that means. This certification will create an important framework to let consumers know what organic means. I see that as a good thing for the cannabis industry and its customers.]
Grocery shopping can be a long, detail-oriented journey if you’re someone who scans every ingredient label in an effort to avoid consuming pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Thankfully, the ‘USDA Organic’ label signals safety from these toxic additives. That same assurance doesn’t exist in cannabis, however, an issue our cultivation columnists have lamented in the past.
In fact, weed’s continued Schedule I status excludes pot growers from achieving “organic” certification, which is controlled by the federally-run USDA. But now, new standards are finally being developed by the Cannabis Certification Council (CCC), which will soon allow cannabis cultivators and manufacturers to add an “Organically Grown” sticker to their products.
The CCC is a nonprofit organization that’s focused on providing cannabis consumers and businesses with education, and helping foster transparency and choice within the industry. The group formed in 2018 when the Portland-based Ethical Cannabis Alliance and the Organic Cannabis Association from Denver, Colorado, joined forces as a result of their shared goals: To create ethical, organic cannabis options within the space.
[Canniseur: Solventless concentrates are nearly impossible to find in most dispensaries in legal states. Water hash is almost the stuff of legends. In my experience at adult-use legal dispensaries in legal states, I always ask for water or solventless hash. I almost never find it. There’s one company in Colorado (Lazercat) who only creates water hash. Given the super high quality of their product, Lazercat commands a premium price. I’m sure there are others, but I don’t know them. The bottom line is that solventless concentrates are very difficult to find, but have incredible quality. Fascinating interview with several solventless hash makers in Michigan. But try to find their products!]
Your ultimate guide on hash rosin.
Made with no more than water, heat, pressure, and a few tools, hash rosin has become one of the most prized forms of cannabis resin today. Most hash rosin is made by squishing ice water hash instead of flower at the right temperature and pressure levels for yields that fail to rival solvent extractions. It also requires high-quality and properly maintained starting material to match the flavor and melt-quality of something made with hydrocarbon solvents.
There are also varying qualities of hash rosin. But thanks to the taste of concentrate connoisseurs, products like live rosin have become the most expensive and limited cannabis products being sold today. To better understand the many forms of modern hash rosin, I sat down with four premiere solventless extractors from Michigan with varying perspectives during the last High Times event in Detroit.
Today’s hashmakers press their hash into rosin and don the titles of solventless extractors. The extractors I spoke to have several years of experience working with rosin.
After originally outsourcing their plant material to other hashmakers for years, the founder of Superior Flowers, Kerry, started Superior Solventless to create some of the highest-grade single source hash rosin in the state. Seeing jars with his labels in the stashes of most other competing local hashmakers I’ve met speaks volumes to how much his work is respected in the community.
Tyler of Wojo Wax recently took home a second-place medal for Best Non-Solvent Concentrate with their single source Cream D’Mint at the Michigan Cannabis Cup in 2019. Tyler said he has been making hash for about 2 and a half years but feels he really found his groove after taking a hashmaking consult in Las Vegas about a year ago.
Anthony AKA the Organic Mechanic, has been growing and making traditional hash for over 15 years with a focus on pressing rosin over the last two to three years. He’s a hash veteran that I’ve seen doing live demos and pressing hash and flowers that guests bring to his booth at the Cannabis Cup over the last few years.
Mark from Covert Extracts is one of the first to introduce mechanically separated hash rosin to Michigan cannabis consumers. Using the technique, he took first place for Non-Solvent Concentrate with the mechanically separated Mother’s Milk THCA and terpenes grown by Ghostbudsters Farm at the Michigan Cannabis Cup in 2019.
Not All Hash is Made Equal
Two jars of hash rosin from the same extractor, strain and batch.
When it comes to hash rosin, terms like 90u and 120u are different parts of the trichome separated by size. The “u” or μ to be accurate is a measurement that refers to the different micron sizes of the holes in the multiple bags used to filter and separate trichomes from the rest of the plant during the “washing” process.
“Washing” is slang for making ice water hash. More specifically, it is when plant material is put into a bucket of ice water and stirred before it is strained, leaving only hash behind. However, it’s worth noting that dry sift hash can be made without water and ice but most of the live rosin on shelves today is made by turning ice water hash made with freshly frozen materials into rosin.
In fact, all four of the hashmakers I interviewed use ice water hash over dry sift material when making their rosin.
Beyond that, different hashmakers include or exclude certain trichome sizes from their final product. As a result, certain jars of hash and rosin being sold on the market are labeled as 90u, 120u, full spectrum or some range in between.
Differences in Micron Sizes
Kerry of Superior Solventless broke down the differences between the separate micron sizes and what they mean to consumers.
He compared washing flowers to straining pasta. Big holes let the water out and keep all the stuff you want isolated from falling through. However, in the case of making hash, multiple strainers with smaller and smaller holes are needed to separate the different parts of the trichome from the rest of the plant.
“So, when you’re looking at something like 120u [up close], you’re going to see things that are intact. Basically, a stalk and glandular head right up on top. Then, when you see a 90u or a 73u, you’re mainly going to see heads. Heads that have been knocked off the stalks. You can even see them both individually in the 73 and 90u. That generally is what melts really well. Followed down by 45u and 25u.”
The trichome head has proven to be the most prized component of the plant. The fact that they mostly end up in the 90 and 73u bags as Kerry describes is why jars of pure 90 or 73u hash rosin have become more expensive and desired than full spectrum hash by some.
To get a better idea of what goes into the rosin I’ve been smoking, I asked the four hashmakers what sizes they include in their final product and why.
What is Full Spectrum Hash Rosin?
Fresh Press Banana OG full spectrum live rosin from Covert Extracts
When asked if they leave the 25u or anything else out of their full spectrum rosin Kerry replied, “We do not. Our motto or our philosophy and principle is to be full spectrum from the beginning to the end of the process.”
According to Kerry, the 90u and 73u are the “meat and potatoes of your dinner plate” and make up the majority of the weight of the yield. In fact, he claimed 90u alone “makes up 70 percent of your wash.”
He warned consumers that if they see a product that’s labeled 90u and you see that same strain from the same company in full spectrum form as well, there’s a chance the 90 or 73u were left out of that full spectrum. That means you’re only getting about 30 percent of the actual hash spectrum despite the full spectrum label.
When asked if he prefers to smoke 90u over full spectrum Kerry said he personally feels 90u lacks certain flavors and the “entourage effect” from missing cannabinoids that would have been in the full spectrum.
“We have one product. That product is all full spectrum. From there we manipulate the consistency,” he said.
The other three hashmakers I spoke to leave what they perceive as the less desirable ends of the hash spectrum like 25 and the much higher microns out of the final product.
Which Microns Make the Cut?
In response to what goes into their full spectrum, Anthony from the Organic Mechanic responded, “45-159u is what I use for my full spectrum.”
He added that he leaves out the 25 and the 159 because “in my personal opinion, it’s all the broken stalks and little pieces of heads that fall through.”
Anthony also added that you would have to wash an extremely large quantity for the 25u to amount to anything worthwhile.
Tyler of Wojo Wax agreed by saying, “like Anthony said, I catch 40 to 159. I’ve done 25 before and never went above 159u. My reasoning for it is it just makes the color a little bit darker and a lot of people base it [the quality] on color. I didn’t notice much of a difference as far as effect. Yields are obviously a little bit better if you are throwing in those bags, but I’ll sacrifice that yield for the lighter color.”
Covert also found that, in his experience, the 45 to 159u range for his full spectrum rosin was the best for maintaining the flavor of the original plant. The remaining hash that get left out of smokable product is still used in capsules or edibles.
I asked Kerry why he felt less inclined to leave out the 25u and he admitted, “the 70u is going to be white, the 25u or the 159 and above is definitely going to be on the greener, darker, less smelly side.”
But he added that he believes the ends have beneficial properties and those parts make up a much smaller portion of the weight of the wash.
Furthermore, when you make rosin, “you’re taking all the hash and you’re putting it through an entire filtration process again and you can look at that bag and you can see what’s leftover.”
Animal Mints live rosin jam processed by @greenthumbforpresident
Never Judge a Book by Its Cover
Hashmakers are tasked with selecting strains of flower that will provide a sustainable yield and desirable characteristics after being washed and pressed into rosin.
When asked what his favorite strain to wash was, Kerry of Superior Flowers responded, “I would say Purple Pebbles as well as TKP currently. The TKP was very deceptive when I was running through the pheno hunt. The plant to the naked eyes doesn’t look covered in frost like the Cookies strain.”
Despite the lack of visible frost on the plant, he assured us the yields from washing the TKP were surprisingly high.
And vice versa, he added, “if you’re familiar with the MAC, looking at it you would think ‘wow, that thing is covered [in frost], if it gets washed it’s going to do phenomenal,’ but sometimes that’s not the case and you never want to judge a book by its cover.”
Tyler’s current favorite plant to wash is Sundae Driver because it “checks every single box from nose to taste to yield.”
He described it as a delicious dessert dab with fruity flavors that speak to the Grape Pie half of its lineage.
The Organic Mechanic had similar woes with MAC and Tyler from Wojo Wax agreed that he’s washed material that was frosty in appearance but only yielded .3% — and when you’re getting that little in return, it becomes impossible for hashmakers to keep their lights on. To put that .3% into perspective, yields for hash-friendly strains like GMO can be as high as 8%.
Anthony from the Organic Mechanic said his favorite strain to wash is GG#4 because it has been consistent in every category including yield, potency and smell.
“The color on it is beautiful, the taste, the yield, the terp on it is just loud. Everybody that has got a hold of it likes it. Also, Cherry Punch from Greener Thumb’s outdoor grow is another one of my favorites because of the terps.”
Mark, the lead extractor for Covert Extracts says his current favorite is the mountain cut of Tropicanna Cookies bred by Harry Palms and grown by Ghostbudsters Farm because of the prominent terpene profile. He gave GMO an honorable mention as well because “it dumps, it’s stinky and it checks every box for me. It’s my go-to.”
Mason Jar Test Wash
Tyler admits he made the mistake of judging how well a strain would wash based of the quality of its appearance. After putting in tons of work processing an extremely large bulk of flower for a friend that ended up looking far better than it yielded, he learned his lesson the hard way.
Since it is impossible to rely on looks alone to tell how well a strain will wash after the harvest, Tyler recommends paying attention to genetics and performing a small mason jar test before washing an entire grow and being surprised it didn’t yield enough to break even.
Tyler said that when sourcing starting material, solventless extractors “have to truly look for what strains are going to wash well. You gotta look at the parents and then as you’re growing them too, you can tell by the size of the head if you’re scoping it. A new thing that we started doing is doing a test wash. You can put a small amount of flower in a mason jar with water and ice then start swishing it around to see if those heads fall off because it can be the frostiest plant ever like the MAC and not dump at all. It’s got to want to let that head go because we’re not after the stalk.”
With the mason jar test wash method, Tyler says only about a half ounce of flower is needed rather than using a whole plant or more when it might not yield much.
Live Rosin vs. Cured
Cured rosin by Mammoth Melts from Rhode Island.
Most modern hashmakers exclusively work with “live” or freshly frozen starting material. This is best illustrated by the fact that only one of the four hashmakers I interviewed for this article currently processes dry or cured flower.
I asked Anthony from Organic Mechanic if he preferred using fresh frozen starting material over cured and he replied, “I would do either one if the product was taken care of.”
However, he finds flavor can be lost during the curing process.
On the other hand, the other three hashmakers exclusively work with live products for a number of reasons.
Kerry said in his experience at Superior Solventless, he observed differences in the yield, color, potency and consumer demand.
Tyler used both live and cured products before the Wojo Wax team deciding to only use freshly frozen flowers. Tyler says that in his experience, the yield was higher with cured material. Despite this, he exclusively runs live material because of the enhanced flavor and the fact that it melts better in his experience.
Mark prefers live because it “tastes better, the color is obviously better” and that’s been enough to keep him exclusively working with freshly frozen flowers.
Single Source vs. Outsourcing Flower for Hash Rosin
I asked a few of the hashmakers if they noticed any differences when extracting flower they grew themselves versus outsourcing plant material.
“This is probably my favorite question so far because this to me is where you really get your difference [in hash quality]. We do everything single source,” said Tyler of Wojo Wax.
He says the reason for this is, “growing for hash is different than growing for flower.”
Macro shot of the GMO strain grown by Loki Gro
Growing for Hash
“For starters, I’m not defoliating as much as I am for hash because I’m trying to get as much surface area as much as I can. On top of that, I crank my room down as cold I can possibly get it for the last three weeks because that preserves the terpenes which is what we’re ultimately after. Another reason is because I’ve taken [other] people’s materials and it doesn’t always yield well. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news to somebody that they’re getting .3% back on a wash.”
When asked if he also noticed a difference when washing the same strain from his own grow compared to somebody else’s, Kerry of Superior Solventless admits the experiences were not the same.
“For example, we washed Wedding Cake that we grew and got 5%. We washed someone else’s and got 3%.”
Mechanical Separation vs. Jar Tech
There are two additional ways for hashmakers to further process hash after it has been turned into rosin. Using these techniques, they can turn the consistency of their rosin into something closer to a live resin sauce.
Live rosin jam.
One is called “jar tech” which just about anyone should be able to do at home with a jar of fresh-pressed rosin, a source of heat, time and practice. The consistency it creates has been called jam or “caviar” by Superior Solventless and it contains small crystals with a more liquidy high-terpene layer. The layers combine to create an applesauce-like consistency that is less likely to change at room temperature than fresh-pressed rosin.
Unlike the washing and pressing phases, the hashmakers I spoke to claim little to no weight is lost after a jar of hash rosin undergoes the “jar tech.”
On the other hand, the other technique which involves mechanically separating THCA out of the oil comes with a more significant yield loss.
If you come across a jar of solventless rosin with large THCA crystals and oil in it, they were most likely mechanically separated with a press and filters. Then, the crystals are melted down and manipulated into a shape of choice. Usually, they are made to mimic the appearance of popular live resin extracts made with hydrocarbon solvents.
Mechanically Separated THCA and Terpenes from Covert Extracts and Ghostbudsters Farm.
According to Mark of Covert Extracts to make mechanically separated THCA, “you need wax rosin in order to make mechanically separated THCA.”
From there, he says, “to separate the THCA from terpenes I usually press the rosin wax in a 25u press bag at about 135 degrees to start. With a very low pressure at first before building to almost max pressure. Then, I repeat at different temps until I feel enough terpenes are separated. From there you can take the THCA and melt it down into a glass-like consistency at around 240 to 250 degrees.”
Comparing it to the jam tech or fresh press, Mark said it is a “long process and you have about a 25% loss in yield but potency and appearance of the final product sets it apart.”
The process appears to further isolate THCA in hash rosin with Mark claiming to have “had some testing out at 92% THCA.”
There was a point in time when most hash looked the same. It was a dark brown or green in color and stretchy. Traditional hash commonly came in a brick, ball, or bullet that may have traveled inside someone’s ass before getting to you.
Fortunately, today’s hash has is far more refined and versatile. It looks more like a lighter colored oil that can take on the form of dry sift, ice wax, rosin, live rosin, jam, or mechanically separated hash rosin. Not to mention the various consistencies that rosin can be shape-shifted into, like cake batter, sugar, or applesauce.
[Canniseur: I’m convinced that the outdoor growing in California, Oregon, Washington and other states including Colorado and Michigan, is the best way to grow cannabis. Somehow indoor grow operations are a little off. Not that the product is bad, but outdoors is where cannabis has thrived for millennia and is probably the best place for cannabis grow farms. California is interesting to watch because it was the biggest outdoor growing state in the U.S.]
It’s been over two years since Proposition 64 was passed in California. Profit projections, law enforcement, the black market, and climate change have kept the cannabis business in the Golden State everything but predictable. People continue to be imprisoned for crimes connected to cannabis while legal businesses are turning a profit. Legal weed has even backfired on the people who made it legal, as big corporate investors coming in change their business landscape.
Yet it remains a general consensus that legalization is all for the better. No one wants to go to jail anymore for growing or selling weed, there’s absolutely no denying the many medical benefits of the plant and hemp is poised to present itself as the green alternative to the overconsumption of fossil fuel products. Cannabis is a disruptor to big pharma, big alcohol and big tobacco, which in turn has the “bigs” attempting to either sabotage and/or establish themselves in the marketplace.
Long story short, it’s rocky out there for many running legitimate legal cannabis businesses but they want to be doing it.
Northern California took a big hit — and it wasn’t just profit loss. While policymakers tried to model California’s legal market after Colorado, they fell short because the cultivators in California don’t operate the same way. The green rush flooded prime growing communities with people who were so green to cannabis, it doesn’t seem right to even call them that. But many heritage cannabis farmers in these communities wanted to break the cycle of fear instilled over the years and moved forward with legalization regardless, for all the right reasons.
Chiah Rodriques and her husband James Beatty run River Txai Farms and Arcanna Flowers, the brand and sustainable cannabis farm and nursery in Mendocino County. Rodriques and Beatty grew up on a large back-to-land intentional community and are second-generation Mendo cannabis farmers.
Chiah Rodriques and James Beatty. PHOTO | Trina Calderón
Committed to legal growing since the 9.31 ordinance enacted in 2008, they founded Mendocino Generations, a collective of sustainable cannabis farms in Mendocino County who strive to work together as a brand, farm landrace genetics, and promote “better living through cannabis.”
But keeping Mendo’s exceptional cannabis tradition alive throughout legalization has presented challenges. Visiting the area during this season’s harvest, I took the temperature with Rodriques.
“Basically over-regulation is like the ankle-biter,” shared Rodriques. “It’s the Achilles heel of the small farmer because in order to compete in this market you have to cultivate enough cannabis to compete with farms in other counties with larger cultivation allowances. Ultimately, they’re our competition but on a shelf with jars of cannabis, they’re not, because you wouldn’t want to put that cannabis in a pretty jar on a shelf — most of that product is going to oil and biomass. You have different levels of competition. You have competition for pricing because their cannabis is still going into the market, which makes prices fluctuate. Then you have the shelf space for all the brands, and lots of these brands thought that they could do a small brand and survive with that, but I don’t think that that’s really going to play out as we thought. Running a small brand takes a lot of overhead.
PHOTO | Trina Calderón
“Basically it’s hard to know if your brand from one small farm can have enough cannabis if your brand goes big,” she continued. “You may need to start reaching out and getting cannabis for your brand from other cultivators. In Mendocino County, we have a disadvantage because we can only cultivate 10,000 sq. ft., but there is a push for there to be a ballot to change it to one acre. That has mixed reviews from the farmers too, basically half the farmers hate that idea and half the farmers are into it. I think that’s mostly because they don’t have the space or the water or the infrastructure to handle that much.”
Rodriques believes that a contributor to the disconnect in policy is that no one consulted with Mendo’s heritage cannabis farmers when creating regulations.
“Farmers were not invited to the table until much of the ordinance was in place and there was a big rush to push things through as is and make changes later — so the county was ready for Prop 64 to go into effect. It was a race to the finish line. They didn’t think we had valid concerns, or maybe felt like the hippies needed to get organized. Admittedly so, we were all over the place with requests and needs that I’m sure it was overwhelming to lawmakers,” Rodriques said.
There was no real insight into what is actually practical or what is actually happening on farms in the area. Most of the regulations were written around indoor cultivation and don’t play out for sun-grown farms in Mendo.
A more community-oriented step towards action is the Mendocino Appellations Project, a group designed to set up a process for defining cannabis appellations, which are geographic areas in which small farmers can classify their crop with that name. A valiant effort, it plays into marketing and promotion, though the true cannabis aficionado will appreciate the information the same way a wine connoisseur likes to know where exactly a pinot noir grape is grown.
PHOTO | Trina Calderón
Small farming is no easy task in itself and going legal has created hardships for many.
“I think last year sucked so bad most people were struggling pretty hard, and in terms of pricing, it was bad last year,” said Rodriques. “Crops this year were a mixed bag. We definitely had a lot of people who had frost, and we had mold. There’s a lot of powdery mildew this year because the rain didn’t come. It’s like this weird humid that makes no sense because it’s really been dry. There’s been a lot of theft. There have been a lot of fires, so there’s smoke damage material.
“[As for] the market, who knows what it’s actually going to look like in the next couple months. Right now, its sort of a mixture, a lot of people are saying they’re going to back out. A lot of people are scared, but then there’s a lot of people that are moving forward with all these other ideas and plans. They’re doing okay, so it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen with the ultimate heritage cultivators, like my parents’ generation. Most of them aren’t doing it anymore because they were on the brink of retirement anyway so who wants to go through all this bullshit, right?”
Chiah Rodriques. PHOTO | Trina Calderón
Recently, the county has realized they’re not getting as much tax money as they hoped and the Board of Supervisors are planning to give the small farmers what’s called a Cannabis Cultivation Amnesty Transition Pathway. The plan would give more years for legacy growers to transition into county compliance, which may help attract more applications. The vote was unanimous to create the Amnesty, which Rodriques sees as the county throwing them a bone. Considering 1588 total people applied to participate in legal cannabis in the county, and only 232 were approved and issued permits, and it appears not many more would apply since the regulations are so problematic. Building and planning issues like commercial zoning and ADA rules for bathrooms and parking lots are costing farms money they don’t have. Especially when the reality is it’s usually not probable to have anyone in a wheelchair working on a farm. Workarounds are likely because people are trying to be compliant, but the same rules are putting people in uncomfortable positions.
“Comparatively to Humboldt, I would say that Mendo is struggling a little bit harder and that’s more because the bureaucracy hasn’t allowed people to get into the system,” Rodriques concluded.