Hashish making is a form of ancient alchemy. The people who study this fine art are knowledge keepers of a proud tradition that’s sadly fading away in the United States. An extraordinary young woman who goes by the name Cherry Blossom Belle is one of these rare wisdom keepers, and she’s helping Heritage Hash Co. produce some of the best concentrates on the market.
Belle was the apprentice of late master hashishin Frenchy Cannoli. She first met Frenchy in 2012 through her brother, Leo Stone of Aficionado Mendocino, who had connected with him after Aficionado won first place in the flower category at the Emerald Cup – a victory that would ultimately change both siblings’ lives forever. Frenchy and Leo initially bonded over the importance of branding and aesthetic presentation.
“Frenchy and my brother were like long-lost friends from a past life,” Belle recalls fondly. “They were spiritually so connected and were instant friends as soon as they met.”
Frenchy quickly became the resident hash maker at Aficionado. That’s when Subcool, the late legendary Cannabis grower and breeder, suggested that he preserve his art by taking on an apprentice. He agreed and asked Belle – who was a farmhand on Leo’s Cannabis farm at the time – if she’d take on the role. So why did Frenchy choose her? True, Belle had previously dabbled in hash-making as a teen, but according to her, his reasons were based more on personal connection than experience.
“I think [Frenchy] saw me as someone who was young and motivated and wasn’t set in their ways yet,” says Bell. “We also both had a culinary background that we really connected on and had many similar cultural values and ways of doing things.”
Remarkably, Frenchy and Belle had both lived in Japan at the same time before they knew each other: That’s where Belle grew up during the first 10 years of her life, while Frenchy was a fashion designer there making designer stingray purses. After leaving Japan, Belle lived in Southeast Asia for the following eight years. Frenchy also spent several years of his life in Southeast Asia. Living abroad impacted how they both approached their work – from cleanliness to dedication to the style of apprenticeship – which she says resembled traditional Japanese culture.
Belle studied under Frenchy, honing the art of hashish for nearly a decade, four years of which she lived with him and his wife Kimberly (who goes by Madame Cannoli).
“I started backing him in his workshops, and I instantly assumed the position,” she says. “It was this unsaid thing between us, and that’s where we vibed. We didn’t have to talk to each other – of course, we did, about all kinds of things in life – but we didn’t need to talk in terms of him telling me what he needed. For instance, he didn’t have to tell me he needed ice – I already knew. And it was just like that between us.”
Belle’s infatuation with the plant and its array of expressions is the force driving her to deepen her practice as a hash master. Belle is now applying her years of training with Frenchy as the Director of Manufacturing at Heritage Hash Co. dispensary in Ukiah, Calif. It’s the first micro-business in the state that dubs itself a “hashery.” Belle compares it to a brewery or roastery because visitors to the dispensary can watch professionals press hash and extracts right in front of them. Eventually, Heritage Hash Co. will also have an on-site consumption lounge attached to its facility, giving people a place to taste the elegant flavor notes of the craft Cannabis extracts produced there.
The Heritage team recently won first place in this year’s Emerald Cup’s Solventless category for its Whitethorn Rose live ice water bubble hash. The team also earned a second-place trophy for Whitethorn Rose live rosin.
“Whitethorn Rose will be the flavor of the decade,” Belle predicts. “People are going to remember it for a hot minute. It made a huge impact, and it’s all because of the quality of Huckleberry Hill Farms’ genetics.”
Since Frenchy’s untimely passing last summer, Belle has begun co-hosting workshops with Madame Cannoli. She is also doing a series of collaborative classes on the road with Byrd Extracts (most recently in St. Louis, Missouri). Belle believes that part of her role here on Earth is keeping the art of hashish making alive by passing on the knowledge Frenchy bestowed upon her to others.
“Frenchy gave me the skills to become a great hash maker,” she says. “But teaching me was to ensure that there will be other great hash makers in the future. He always said, ‘You can either be known as the person who shared [this information] with the world, or you can be known as the person who hoarded it. Who do you want to be?’”
Based on the number of workshops Belle has already taught and her desire to spread the gospel of hash to the world, it’s clear how she wants to be remembered: as a teacher. In the future, she’s hoping to dabble in international markets and focus more on pressed hashish.
“My art and my love will always be pressed hash,” she confesses. “I won’t have to fight the market as hard for pressed hash on the international level. Here, I feel like I keep trying and trying and trying. But the market already exists in Europe and Brazil. They want pressed hash there. So why not play in the markets that welcome you, instead of the one that makes you fight for it?”
Perhaps if pressed hashish pops off in other countries hard enough, the U.S. will have a proper hash revival. One can only hope.