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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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The resin factor

The latest cannabis revolution started with a hair straightener.

Making ‘rosin’, the latest craze in concentrates, is incredibly simple: apply little heat and extreme pressure to flowers or hash, harvest the golden goodness that has literally been squeezed out and continue dabbing.

Not exactly the Hyperloop of marijuana.

Still, there is an undeniable buzz around resin. People without easy access to dabbing extracts are enticed by the promise of a quality product with little or no associated equipment cost. And with no explosive chemicals in the mix, the biggest safety risk is a nasty burn — no explosions and less risk of being labeled a “meth lab” by authorities.

A quick Internet search for “rosin tech” will yield dozens of how-to videos and articles describing simple do-it-yourself approaches to resin extraction. These are sometimes accompanied by hyperbolic statements of “the death of butane hash oil” from the most zealous proponents of the method.

The DIY scene is what it is, the quality and quantity of what amateurs can produce varies wildly, just like it does with homemade BHO. But when it comes to potency and taste, top-shelf resin is just as potent as any other solvent-based product on the market.

And the market is starting to notice.

Timothy Anderson, purchasing manager for Harborside Health Center, said resin has been on his radar for a while, but that demand has only increased in the past year.

“We went from a few token resins to at least 20-plus varieties of notable resins in stock,” he said. “Resin may lack some of the flash or zing of a BHO shatter or wax when it comes to certain aesthetic qualities, such as color, but where it counts, quality is there now.”

Anderson’s job has him looking at hundreds of samples from potential suppliers every day. So what was it about resin – BHO’s shy, unassuming little brother – that caught his eye?

“The power had been there for a while, but what really took away any skepticism about the quality was my taste,” he said. “I took a hit on this Sour D resin and my mouth felt like I was full of Sour D tops.”

To calm my own skepticism, I arranged to meet the brains behind High Noon Extracts.

Evan X., 27, stands in front of a green park bench overlooking Lake Merritt in Oakland. He wears large black sunglasses and gets through most of the interview, but his atmosphere is completely casual, as if we were meeting to discuss postage stamps or saltwater aquariums.

He fires a fat blunt from OG as I walk forward and greets me with a strong but polite handshake. Hailing from Georgia, he exudes the Southern charm and sociable grace you’d expect, but with the unmistakable hard edge of a man who busted bulls, boxed for a prize pool and spent much of his life as a welder.

“When it comes to production methods, I do everything, man. That’s what I’m proud of,” he says, adding a little aw-shuck’s modesty, “I don’t want to be like, you know…but I want to be known as the best.”

“I participate [famed hash-maker] Frenchy Cannoli’s staple stock. That means something to me.”

Evan, who has been making hash for over a decade, says he’s been acquainted with rosin for years, but has only seen a real rise in general awareness in the last six months.

When I ask him about the potency of resin versus BHO or shatter, he pulls out a pile of papers. The first three are printouts of test results for three High Noon products: one resin and two BHO waxes.

The fourth is a sheet of parchment paper with a translucent amber disc the size of a coffee can lid on top. Evan peels the pancake resin off the paper and holds it up to the sunlight, giving me a dazzling glimpse of brightness.

The first three pages shed some light on my question. The Cherry Cheesecake resin has a THC level of 86.2 percent, beating both BHO samples (66.1 percent and 71.5 percent, respectively) by a hefty margin.

But it’s the fourth page that proves to be the most illuminating.

There is a hashish hint of the resin’s past life as a bubble, but the predominant flavor notes reach further back to its original origins: kush flowers.

The thunderous impact is obviously good before I exhale. The beginning borders on overwhelming and gives way to a crushing wave of relaxation and euphoria.

As I gaze at the glittering, sun-kissed ripples of Lake Merritt, I feel the incomparable buzz of being completely burned out in the warm embrace of the Golden State.

But to fully understand the current rosin craze, we need to get our heads out of California, where getting quality dabbing products is as easy as picking up a phone.

Doug F., 36, is a cannabis user living in Nebraska who spoke to SF Evergreen on condition of anonymity. He has been using cannabis for over 20 years and says it helps with his migraine headaches.

While visiting family in Denver, Doug took his first dab, which he said gave pain relief he’d never experienced before.

“Weeds always helped with the headache, but [dabs] just made it disappear,” he said.

But when he returned to Nebraska, where possession of a cannabis concentrate is a crime and can carry a prison sentence of up to five years, he found it more or less impossible to find covert extracts.

“At first I asked the people I bought weed from, but after hearing too little about it, I gave up,” he said with a hint of resignation. “Then I discovered resin and it changed everything. Now I make shit as good as anything I’ve tried in Denver.

Like everything else that inventive cannabis enthusiasts are starting to play with, resin technology has evolved far beyond its humble domestic roots.

My own attempt at making floral resin involved parchment paper, a ceramic hair iron, a half-eighth of the top shelf, and a lot of frustration. So on the last day of Hempcon I decide to call in a professional.

On the first day of Hempcon SF I meet BJ Extracts founder Big Joe. He sits in front of a specialized pneumatic press, equipped with heating plates and a digital temperature controller. I tell him I have to make some flower resin and ask him to fetch a few odds and ends from my personal stash.

Joe is happy to help and even gives a free gram to round up the source material to what he deems a “fat eighth” before squeezing it out with his machine.

Moments later, I’m amazed at the result: about half a gram of what looks like dark honey, smeared on two pieces of parchment paper, which Joe wraps in a pair of custom BJ Extracts envelopes.

Like Anderson, my taste buds have the last word on this. As I savor the resin Joe pressed for me, a raging stream of unmistakable floral flavors washes away any lingering doubts I have about resin’s remarkable potential.

Photo by Greg Zeman

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