It’s easy to see that the cannabis underground is filled with assumptions on the distinction between high- or low-quality cannabis. Before the 1970’s, cannabis laboratory testing wasn’t available. A common rule of thumb was that a pepper aroma indicated high-potency cannabis. However, today-now we know that the smell of pepper is associated with the presence of beta-caryophyllene, which is the primary compound of black pepper oil.
Thai Stick Beliefs
It was believed during the Vietnam War, that Thai Stick (which are cannabis flowers from Southeast Asia that were tied to short bamboo stick with fiber, were commonly dipped in opium. The opium explains the potency of the Thai Stick effects. However, some Thai marijuana might have been spray with byproducts of local opium or heroin production within the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Burma, and Laos. It is much more likely that the one’s exposed to high-potency Thai cannabis (which is a cannabis variety that grows natively in Thailand , thought that it was contaminated, when really, it was that the Thai cannabis was simply stronger than anything these users had experienced previously.
Tropical narrow-leafleted cannabis is often five to ten times more potent (extremely psychoactive) than commercial Mexican cannabis (which refers to indigenous varieties of cannabis (or landraces) that grow natively in Mexico . Mexican cannabis was broadly available in the United States during the Vietnam War.
Myth Variation-Black Hashish
There’s also a variation of this myth which branched off to black hash. Black hash was known to sometimes have inside a white layer which was claimed to be opium. What was foolishly thought to be opium, was actually in fact a mold which often grows in poor quality, hand rubbed hashish. Opium and hashish both burn differently and opium is rarely combined with hashish.
What the Cannabis Underground Got Right
While it appears the cannabis underground was wrong about numerous things, there was one thing they did get right-its descriptions of high-quality cannabis. It described high trichome density as “a lot of crystals”, which is a great description of high-quality cannabis. Other descriptions which became associated with high-quality cannabis are “piney” (which turned out to be pinene), “citrus” (which turned out to be limonene), and “mango” (which turned out to be terpinolene and mycrene). The fact that these descriptions came way before the use of headspace analysis which is the process that confirms the presence of these terpenes.