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Fire In, Fire Out: Making Hash at Green Cedar Retreat

By Cam Maxwell
Published: October 28, 2021
Key Takeaways

What’s better than a trip to paradise? A trip to paradise to learn how to make hash. Maximum Yield editor Cam Maxwell drew the long straw and found himself in Tofino, B.C. with two great hosts, beautiful scenery, and great instructions for making the best hash.

Caption: photo by Lanaya Houlden

One of the exciting new sectors coming out of the cannabis industry is tourism.

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With its west-coast lifestyle, vast sandy beaches, surfing, fishing, abundant wildlife, and outdoor activities, Tofino, B.C. is the perfect locale for a bud and breakfast… with a twist.

Green Cedar Retreat is a 420-friendly BnB that also offers a beginner’s ice-hash and rosin making course for those looking to expand their cannabis knowledge while enjoying all that Tofino, a breathtaking town on the beautiful west coast of Vancouver Island, has to offer.

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Situated just minutes from sprawling MacKenzie Beach, guests staying at Green Cedar Retreat can take part in a three-day ice-hash making course for beginners led by Green Cedar owners ‘Gastown’ Dave and Bianca, who pivoted from doing fishing charters to teaching guests how to make some of the finest hash using the ice-water technique, then turning that hash into rosin, which has become a very popular product for cannabis enthusiasts.

The lodge, which is very close to the Tofino/Ucluelet bike trail, features two well-appointed guest suites, both with Wi-Fi, TV, and mini fridge. One suite has a queen bed, the other is a deluxe twin suite. Both have en suite bathrooms. Registered guests get access to the hash and rosin-making courses as well as other parts of the lodge, including the main living area, which features a massive eight-person Harley Davidson poker table complete with many assorted dab rigs, bongs, bangers, and vaporizers.

Those who register and take the course won’t be disappointed as they’ll learn first-hand from Dave, who is meticulous about his hash making and knows exactly how to get the best yield from his fresh-frozen buds.

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photo by Lanaya Houlden

“People think they can make a good product with something that’s only kind of good. If your original product isn’t insanely good, you’re not going to get a good hash product,” says Dave while casually rolling a joint on the side deck of the lodge. “It’s fire in and fire out. It’s that simple.”

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When preparing a batch of cannabis for hash making, Dave uses 2 kg of fresh frozen weed and it’s all buds — no trim or shake.

“People also don’t realize, at first, how much material you need — good material. People always try to throw their trim; they don’t always throw in their best stuff and if you want a good product, you’ve got to use your best stuff,” he says, adding he’s been making ice hash for more than two years.

But it’s not only good material that leads to an incredible hash product. The entire process — from the first step of trimming the bud to the last step of storing the hash or rosin (expertly pressed by Dave’s wife, Bianca) into small mason jars — requires the utmost cleanliness and temperature control.

“If you’re a full beginner, the most important parts are cleanliness and temperature,” notes Dave, adding any particulate that finds its way into the product can ruin a batch. “Another thing is you do have to soak your material for a while. Even for me, it seemed really weird to soak the material in the water for a length of time. I’m thinking ‘it’s already fresh frozen. Why do we have to soak it?’ But you’ve got to make sure it’s all soaked in the same temperature. It really helps, especially with dry material. It absorbs the water, and if you think when the material is dry and shriveled, it actually expands when it absorbs the water and all the trichomes that are sitting on the outside almost stick out now because it’s now expanded, and it’s easier to knock them off. So, if you throw that dry material in there and you wash it without soaking it, and it hasn’t absorbed (the water) yet, then your first run will be garbage. It won’t be until your later washes that you start getting a quality run.”

photo by Lanaya HouldenWhile the course is designed for hash-making newbies, even some veterans and people who are switching over from BHO extraction, can learn from Dave and pick up some tips through the process.

A prime example is when lifting the hash-filled micron bags from the 25-gallon bucket that is almost full of water after the material is drained from the washer. When you simply grab the first bag with both hands and lift, it’s virtually impossible because you’re essentially lifting all that water, but Dave has a pro tip to get those bags out. Instead of just lifting with both hands, you start drumming your hands up and down while holding onto the bag. That motion of drumming (without lifting) gets the bag out of the bucket with ease.

Given that the best plant material means better hash and rosin, Dave is continually seeking that ultimate strain with plenty of high-yielding trichomes and terpenes. He’s been phenotype hunting for four years, while also breeding cultivars and working with a collective of growers to develop new strains.

“My focus is on genetics. I’m a business person and I see where my intellectual properties lie,” says Dave, who has been involved with cannabis for more than 24 years after starting out in guerilla grows near Victoria, B.C.

“Right now, we’re in the process of working with tissue culture and finding out the original DNA from some of our strains and recording that, then sending it off to a lab and claiming it. So that’s what we’re in the process of doing. I sent 17 cultivars off for tissue culture and we’re going to register them.”

“When we’re (phenotype) hunting, we’re getting multiple phenos of certain strains, so what I’ve been doing is, whatever my top pick is, the next two or three underneath it, I either give them away to my collective or put them on a cut menu where I give people access to them. There are only three to five people that will get enough cuts off one plant and, once they get that, then I destroy that plant.

photo by Kyle Le GrowSo those people get that cultivar, and they are the only ones with it, and we work out a deal that’s fair and everyone’s happy with it.”

Suffice it to say there can be a lack of integrity among cannabis breeders and sellers when it comes to proprietary ownership, something Dave has dealt with firsthand with some of his own cultivars.

“Three years ago I gave my Mimosa to some people and they lied to me after, saying they got it from someone else, so I’m a little jaded giving them out. So, moving forward, I definitely want to make sure I own everything.”

Gastown Dave has come a long way from his greenhorn days growing up in Langford, B.C., just outside Victoria. “Langford had a lot of growers and lot of the good weed came from Langford and Sooke for Victoria. I bought an ounce for $200, and I would roll the whole thing up into joints. Then I would sell the joints and my ounce would end up being be free. Then I started working with growers and a dude named “Fat J” and he had the best weed. He was the OG and I learned a lot from him,” Dave recalls.

He then started brokering at age 18. “People were showing up in Victoria with American money by the bagload and buying, so growers needed the brokers to move their stuff. The growers just wanted to sit at home and buyers just wanted to sit at home so the someone had to work between the two.”

photo by Lanaya HouldenAfter getting his own place, Dave decided to grow his own and admits his first attempt “failed miserably.”

After quickly giving up the notion of growing by himself, he met a person at the shipyard who was a grower and needed help with trimming and other work. He also then went through his first wash while absorbing plenty of information about growing cannabis properly.

After a couple years moving about, Dave settled in Vancouver (hence his brand name Gastown) for the next 12 years.
“I learned my lessons in Victoria, so when I moved to Vancouver, I knew what I had to do,” he says, adding he had to learn to trust the right people and avoid those with questionable intent.

“I worked with mature people who were all about business. There was no gang affiliation. If they had anything like guns or blow, I did not work with them. I didn’t want anything to do with it. Vancouver was scary for me. But I had to get over that fear — fear runs everything in this world — so I had to get over the fear and empower myself and go get it.”

He’s certainly done just that. He and Bianca have a wonderful place at Green Cedar Retreat, which is a fabulous spot to check out for anyone wanting to learn how to properly make water hash. It’s also just a great place to go if you want to visit Tofino and enjoy the amenities of a 420-friendly bud and breakfast run by two fantastic people.

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