Around the world, many different ways are employed to smoke, inhale and imbibe cannabis and its many derivatives and extracts.
For cannabis users, the number of different extracts Canada now has available for them to sample has grown rapidly since its legalization in 2018. From pure hashish and marijuana to HTFSEs, distillate syringes and bulk shatter, the range of cannabis products on the market today seems, at first glance, to be a little bit complicated.
But it hasn’t always been that way. For centuries, cannabis plant matter, and its simple extract, hashish, were the only way to enjoy the pleasures of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Many different methods were used to smoke these things: pipes, chillums, hookahs and bongs.
These days, technology is producing ever more high-tech ways to imbibe cannabis and cannabis extracts. But as is so often the case, the old ways are the best ways. So let’s take a look at some of the methods used to smoke the good stuff in different parts of the world.
Although hashish and cannabis are illegal in Egypt, these drugs play an important role in the country’s social fabric. Egypt can trace its recreational drug habits back to the 12th century, when Muslim Sufi holy mean used hashish to enter a state of spiritual ecstasy.
Hubble bubble hookahs
In today’s Egypt, people smoke hashish in hookahs: graceful and ornate glass vessels containing water flavoured with rose extract. A small “head” of hash and tobacco is placed on a conical receptacle at the top of the pipe. A glowing coal is then placed atop the tobacco and as it smoulders, the mixture of hash and tobacco smoke is drawn down through the water and into the smoker’s lungs via a long, pliable tube.
It is a very relaxing, contemplative way to smoke, and is complemented by strong coffee or apple-flavoured tea drunk from small glasses.
On the Nile
On the ancient Nile River, which flows like an artery through Egypt, the captains of the feluccas (wooden sail boats) have a simpler way to imbibe their hash as they navigate their vessels up and down the river, powered only by the wind in their great, triangular lateen sails.
A piece of burning hash is placed on a needle balanced across the top of a glass. Another glass is then inverted and placed on the rim of the lower one. When the resulting chamber is full of smoke, the captain inhales it by opening a slight gap between the two glasses.
Cannabis and hashish are also illegal in Iran. However, the use of both these drugs is popular both among the middle and working classes in big cities such as Tehran, and among the working farmers and labourers of the rural areas.
A Friendly Country
Despite its reputation as an enemy of the West, Iran is, in fact, an incredibly friendly and welcoming country to visit. A large part of the Persian (Iranian) culture is based around hospitality to visitors, and travelling in Iran is a fascinating and rewarding experience.
As is the case in Egypt, hash is smoked in hookah pipes (called Ghaliyan in Persian) usually in cafes or in discreet restaurants, often beside cooling streams or fountains which provide respite from Iran’s relentless heat.
To sit on a Persian carpet, beside a chuckling stream in one of Tehran’s leafy, high-class suburbs on the lower slopes of the Alborz Mountains, with some cultured, articulate and intelligent Iranian friends, and smoke a Ghaliyan or two over fresh food, sweet and endless glasses of tea, is a unique and extremely relaxing way to spend an hour or two.
In ultra-conservative Pakistan, alcohol is banned and drug use is illegal. However, the friendly and hospitable Pakistanis don’t let small matters like prohibition keep them from enjoying the social benefits of cannabis and, more commonly, hashish.
The northern province of Chitral, and the land of stunning, glacier-encrusted ranges and deep fertile valleys, is known for its distinct purple-grey hash. Local goat farmers extract resin from cannabis plants and roll it into balls which they wrap in goatskin. The oils within the skin mature the drug which is known locally as “gardaa.”
This local hash, blended with tobacco, is usually smoked in cigarette form. The lit cigarette is held between the third and fourth fingers of a closed fist, and the smoke is inhaled through the circular opening created by the thumb and forefinger.
Once upon a time in Lahore
My girlfriend and I once spent a pleasant week in a Lahore hostel with a bunch of other travellers from around the world. It was January, the coldest month of the Pakistan winter, and we amused ourselves by smoking hash cigarettes over endless rounds of a card game called The Black Bitch.
Our travelling companion, a wild-eyed Irishman I shall call Dermott, was an expert at rolling up hash spliffs for every occasion: from mellow card-playing joints, to hash-heavy monsters which he called “Set Phasers to Stun!”
The Indian subcontinent is the home of cannabis and its lovechild hashish. More specifically, the ranges of northern India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan – the Himalayas, the Karakoram Mountains and the Hindu Kush – are where cannabis grows naturally and abundantly.
Cannabis and hashish have played a part in religious practices across India for thousands of years. Travellers visiting the ghats along the River Ganges will be familiar with the chillum-smoking priests who sit on the river’s banks, beside smouldering fires of fragrant sandalwood, dispensing prayers and blessings to passers-by for a Rupee or two.
The clay pipes they smoke, laden with tightly-packed cannabis or charas of hash, have a small pebble in them to prevent the drug from being sucked down the pipe as they inhale. Before they light their chillum, a priest will invoke the many names of the Hindu deity Shiva in veneration.
More Bhang for Your Buck
Bhang is an edible form of cannabis that is legally available from government-controlled outlets called Bhang Shops in some parts of India. Bhang is mostly composed of ground up cannabis seeds which are mixed with yogurt to make a drink called a bhang lassi and consumed during the Maha Shivaratri and Holi festivals.
Having a “bhang lassi in Varanasi” was a commonplace thing for travellers to experience back in the days of the hippy overland routes from Europe to Nepal!
The Tech These Days
The days of spotting hash oil on a butter knife heated up on a stove element are long gone. These days, your Alaskan Thunder-fuck Shatter (or whichever cannabis product you choose) is best imbibed using a state-of-the-art dab rig.
Dab rigs are kind of like the hubble-bubble hookahs of old. But these modern marvels of tempered steel and high-strength glass, with water cooling and vaporization systems, are designed to give you smoother highs and stronger hits.
But the satisfaction of inhaling some aromatic, mellow smoke remains. Whether you’re a Hindu ascetic, an Iranian scholar, or “a traveller in an ancient land”, smoking a little cannabis or hash remains one of the simple pleasures in life.
If you are just starting out on your cannabis journey, or if you are an experienced recreational or medicinal user of cannabis products, the crew at Matrix Extracts are here to help.
Their wide range of cannabis extracts, which include bulk shatter, HTFSE, distillate syringes, and all manner of pure weed and hashish, is complemented by expert advice and answers to any questions that you might have. Get in touch with them today…and get your hookah bubbling!