Everyone knows him as Frenchy Cannoli. In just a few years he has become a living legend of hashish… and hashporn.
After many years discovering and studying old hashish production techniques, he now shares them with the rest of the world.
It's a story that begins thousands of years ago, a long way from here. The cannabis plant is believed to originate from the Himalayan valleys in the far north of India, near the Pakistani border. There are places such as Malana, in the Parvati valley. This remote village in Himachal Pradesh province at 3000 meters above sea level is surrounded by fields of cannabis. This is where some of Asia's most prized charas, known as Malana Cream, are made.
Here, the fruits of the harvest are not cut and dried before being smoked, as in hashish-producing countries and the United States. Instead, freshly cut buds are rolled around in the hands of the harvesters, for hours, to collect the sticky resin in little balls.
Often the yield of a few grams is the result of a day's work.
When there is enough material, it is rolled into a larger ball, or shaped like a piece of clay. This product is called "charas". Its medical and religious use dates back to the dawn of time. Under pressure from the Americans, the charas was banned in India in the 80 years.
A life devoted to hashish
This is how Frenchy learned during his travels in Pakistan, Nepal, India and Morocco to make hash, almost by accident.
When he started to smoke cannabis at the age of 17, Frenchy only knew him in one form. These are blocks of hashish that arrives in Europe via smuggling from Morocco, Syria, Lebanon or Turkey. Unlike in the USA, cannabis is rarely found in its floral form.
At the age of 18, he left France to travel the world as a traveling smoker.
“For 20 years, I traveled,” he says.
During his wanderings, he found himself in the Parvati valley in India, not far from Malana. The charas attracted him.
“I wasn't there to learn,” he says.
“I was there to stock up for the year. I was a bum. I would go there for four months to stock up and then go back to smoke on the beach. "
But after relaxing in Goa or Thailand, Frenchy returned to the cold and snow in the mountains. And he always came back.
“These people,” he said, “they really, really knew their stuff. "
He spent eight seasons in the valley of Parvati, living in caves and trawling long enough for his guests to trust him and show him their secret.
In reality their secret lies in a few words: a lot of work.
Unique expertise of hashish
For over 40 years he learned, practiced, and nearly perfected a style of hash-making that is virtually unknown in the world today. All in a world that is opening up to a multi-billion dollar cannabis market.
A small but growing market is emerging around very potent cannabis extracts. The latter rely on solvents like butane or the much more expensive one, CO02.
For Frenchy, everything is natural, with water as the only solvent, with a millennial method.
Internships and conferences
Frenchy now organizes conferences around the world in the form of master classes.
He unwraps the bag and discovers a large metal kitchen bowl, a large wooden hoop of the kind used to make quilts and a piece of nylon net woven finely.
“This,” he proclaims, “is a hash factory. "
For forty minutes, the audience will follow Frenchy's every move. He delicately spreads several shopping bags filled with cannabis and small buds on the net.
With him, the process is slightly more complex. A mixture of water, ice and cannabis, brews in a vortex. The resin being sticky, it can be handled when it is cold.
Once mixed, the plant is on the surface, and the resin falls to the bottom. There is more to filter everything. Be careful, do not throw the plant on the surface, because you can extract hashish again, repeating the process six to ten times!
What is left in the filter is the resin that just needs to be collected. It is then dried, and it is only then that it is possible to have a precise idea of the quality of the production.
After 10 freezing hours and 30 drying hours, a final series of manipulations is required. The hashish is then pressed.
Everything is in the pressing
The secret of its production lies in the pressing of hashish.
Put under a plastic film, we flatten it using a bottle filled with boiling water. However, it is not simply a matter of obtaining a waxy mixture in this way. Like what is done by hand in India, this process allows decarboxylation to begin, when cannabis produces its psychoactive effects under the effect of heat.
So, much more efficiently than by other methods, the two essential components of the cannabis plant - cannabinoids and terpenes - are preserved this way.
After pressing, the balls, sticks or cannoli age and change with age in a similar way to the process used for wines.
The pressed resin is aged from four to eight weeks, up to several years. The oldest hash Frenchy had ever smoked, he said, was 10 years old.
“He has a body filling your mouth,” he says. “This, this flavor, it lines your mouth. And then behind you have all the levels of terpenes. "
Introducing hashish to the American public
Frenchy's wandering days ended with the birth of her daughter. Indeed, he moved to the Bay Area to San Francisco, with his wife so that their daughter could go to school.
Additionally, in 1996, California authorized medical cannabis. At that time he was still making hash in the traditional way, but the medical cannabis market was not seeing the slightest interest in it.
“Nobody wanted my product,” he says. “No one wanted pressed resin. "
Unlike in Europe, where hashish is the norm, it has never had a big place in the American market.
In the end, he did what any seller confident in his product would do: he gave it away.
Indeed, the people who tried it came back to see it to take more. Now some of them were dispensary buyers, like APOTHECARIUM from San Francisco, ELEMENTAL WELLNESS from San Jose, Buds and Roses, Medmen, Junge Boys, etc. in Los Angeles.
Slowly but surely, a cannabis star was born.
“Frenchy's hash, in terms of flavor and nose, has no equal,” says Nick Smilgys, co-founder of cannabis startup Flow Kana. “The notes his extractions bring out are unlike anything you might smell or taste in cannabis. "
Frenchy's art made him a celebrity in the cannabis world, thanks to how-to videos on YouTube, and his Instagram account, where he amassed nearly 10.000 followers in less than seven months.
A legacy to pass on
Frenchy's production is the result of artisanal knowledge. So he wishes to be able to preserve and transmit this heritage, but also to protect it, with the help of a label equivalent to the AOC.
Indeed, with the arrival of recreational cannabis, Frenchy is the guarantor of a legacy from afar, both geographically and temporally.
However, he modestly recalls that it is not for nothing.
“It's the most incredible product in the whole plant kingdom,” he says. “And we're lucky to work with it. "