Terpenoid Tied to Unique Hash-Making Process

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The American marijuana community has recently gotten wind of a discovery made by French researchers. In an attempt to create a device that could detect marijuana and hash without using dogs, scientists at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis in France, discovered a new terpenoid. Terpenoids are the elements in all botanicals that lend to smell, taste and other unique elements within the plant. Originally, a plant contains terpenes, which are a class of hydrocarbons. When the terpenes blend with oxygen, the oxidization process turns the terpene into a terpenoid. These terpenoids create the distinct flavor and smell of the various marijuana strains. The terpenoids themselves may also contain medicinal benefits.

How the Hashishene Terpenoid Forms

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14% of Moroccan hash samples were found to include the new hashishene terpenoid.

The study, entitled “Multidimensional analysis of cannabis volatile constituents: identification of 5,5-dimethyl-1-vinylbicyclo[2.1.1]hexane as a volatile marker of hashish, the resin of Cannabis sativa L” was published in the Journal of Chromatography in late 2014 and has taken about 18 months to reach the cannabis community. The study reveals the discovery of a new terpenoid found in hash called hashishene. This terpenoid is considered to give hash its unique flavor. While it hasn’t been found in any regular marijuana samples, it is found in 14% of hash samples. The hashishene terpenoid seems to develop through a terpene called myrcene when powerful ultra violet light from the sun creates a mass oxidization of the myrcene, turning it into hashishene.

The Properties of Myrcene

Myrcene is a terpene found in high amounts in cannabis and other plants such as hops, bay leaves, eucalyptus, lemongrass and a variety of fruits such as mangos. It is extremely beneficial in the formation of other terpenes and it actually increases the absorption of cannabinoids to the brain, making THC more effective and increasing the medicinal value of marijuana. Myrcene is beneficial for many physical disorders including hypertension, diabetes, stress, insomnia, inflammation and dysentery. It is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-microbial, a muscle relaxant, anti-carcinogen, antiseptic and sedative. Myrcene has been linked to treating cancer patients and others suffering from debilitating pain. While hashishene is still in the very early stages of research, its discovery is promising and more research is now highly anticipated.

Hashishene in Moroccan Hash

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The oxidized myrcene terpene found in cannabis is thought to be the source of the hashishene terpenoid.

Hash itself is a lot rarer than many might imagine. Most of the hash going into Europe is coming from Morocco, where the process for making it is a lot more brutal than those employed by U.S residents. Often times the cannabis is cut down and thrown on a roof top to dry in the harsh African sun before beginning the process of making hash. The result is the sweet smelling sticky substance known in Spain as “pollen” if it’s lighter and crumbles or “paki” if it’s doughy and darker. The myrcene terpene is the most abundant terpene found in marijuana and once it undergoes the extreme oxidization under the African sun, it produces hasishene.

The new discovery opens up more questions and possibilities about marijuana and its genetic makeup. The plant never ceases to keep surprising scientists with its complex and genetically diverse structure. While hashishene may not be a common terpenoid in the U.S., its study may lead to important benefits to the U.S. medical cannabis industry.

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