By Jeb Zook, Guest Contributor
Photo courtesy Artisan Cannagars
Seasoned smokers like a variety of different methods to consumer their favorite flower, and the creative ways to roll up never end. Take the cannagar, a cigar filled entirely with cannabis.
My fascination with cannagars began with early memories of my father taking a nice, light wrapper cigar out back with a glass of rum to relax or celebrate. My father had spent a few years living on the island of St. Thomas and gained deep respect for 15-year-old Haitian “rhum” and cigars. Following in his footsteps, I like to do the same things that my father did to cut loose but with a twist:
The cannagar consists of a core of small to medium-small marijuana buds packed into a mold and left to sit for up to 24 hours. In order to make your own cannagar, packing is one of the most crucial steps in this exquisite practice. If there is a weak spot, the whole core can fall apart when the core is removed from its mold or when putting the finishing touches on the cannagar.
After the core is extracted from the mold, the next step usually involves applying several layers of solvent or solventless oils and waxes along with dry sifts or even ice water-extracted bubble hash. From my own experience, I’ve found a terpene-heavy extract is a little easier to apply, but I have also used shatter consistencies to wrap cannagars; they just require a minor warm up with a lighter so that the concentrate will adhere to the core of herb.
Finally, the whole core is typically covered in light, even coating of concentrate then sealed with strain specific leaves, if available. The cannagar is then left to cure for roughly a month, which is a long time but worth it if you want the authentic process. If you want a quick turnaround, try wrapping the molded material with papers or blunt leaves.
Now mind you, rolling up massive amounts of cannabis is far from a new technique. While the cannagar has just appeared in the last few years, it owes its inspiration from that original giant log of goodness, the Thai Stick.
“The seedless cannabis sativa buds were tied neatly and uniformly to a small hemp stick with a thread of hemp fiber or fishing line,” describes Peter Maguire in his popular book Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade. “Fresh Thai sticks had a spicy, thick, pungent aroma, like camphor with a hint of cinnamon. There was nothing dainty or sweet about them, and the intoxication was similarly powerful.”
Back then, the Thai method of storing and transporting cannabis on these sticks was nothing the Western world had ever seen, and the quality was apparently out of this world. To test the high quality of the weed, people would press a Thai Stick against a wall. If it stayed glued by the strength of its own resin, then it passed the test!
After Western travelers learned about Thai Sticks, it got to the point that some of these folks smuggling the sticks back into the U.S,, sometimes selling their wares before they landed.
Maguire writes that “those who smuggled Thai sticks presold them like fine wine to the counterculture’s cognoscenti.”
Even as Thai Sticks quickly became the stuff of legend, you were lucky to see one with your own eyes.
“It never hit the streets—this stuff was sucked up by rock and roll, doctors, lawyers, entertainers, and Indian chiefs,” recalled one smuggler.
In the late 1960s to mid-1970s the Thai sticks trade was based mostly in the U.S., smuggled, and resold in the U.S, where the drug war had been ramping up significantly. Meanwhile, in Thailand, the government was far more concerned with the lucrative opium trade and state-sanctioned opium dens, so cannabis—known the “old man’s herb”—was far from a priority. In fact, possession of marijuana was only a misdemeanor until the 1970s.
Unfortunately, Thai laws have changed significantly from the times when Thai Sticks were first smuggled from there into the U.S. and elsewhere. On the upside, recent changes in medicinal and adult use in the United States have reopened this cottage industry of artisans and craftsmen who are able to create these works once again.
My hope is that one can purchase or pursue one of these delectable treats as easily as my father once got his Haitian Rhum and a proper light wrapper cigar.