The History of Hashish and Middle East Politics 

By  Lanny Swerdlow

The History of Hashish and the Art of Political Negotiation

The socialization aspects of cannabis are one of its most important, but least understood usages. That cannabis calms people down, makes them more amenable to all situations and is capable of defusing even the most hostile of circumstances is legendary.

This remarkable ability of marijuana to relax, soothe and promote congeniality is applicable to more than just individual social situations. Its potential to improve outcomes on the world political stage is gargantuan.

Can marijuana actually make political negotiations more likely to succeed? Can it bring disparate parties together to form a common bond and reach agreements to defuse crisis situations where hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives hang in the balance?

Hashish, a concentrated and potent form of cannabis, provides a viable answer.

A Quick History of Hashish in the Middle East

Hashish originated in Arabia at least a thousand years ago. It is so Arabic that the word hashish derives from the Arabic word for “grass.”

From the legendary tales of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights to the incendiary Satanic Verses, hash was de rigueur in Arab society. Many social interactions involved either consuming hash as an edible or smoking hash. Hookahs were common and ornate and were perfect to use for the communal consumption of hashish. One of the reasons postulated for the former perfusion of cannabis use in the Middle East is because alcohol is forbidden to adherents of Islam.

Although the redrawing of national boundaries in the Middle East at the end of World War I has led to many of today’s problems, the fact remains that Sunnis have been quarreling viciously with Shiites for some fifteen hundred years along with various incursions by Christian nations stirring up the pot even more.

What has changed that these internecine problems are no longer constrained? Why has all-hell broken out over the last 50 or so years? One major change could be attributable to the status of hashish in the Middle East.

How reefer madness has negatively impacted Middle East politics

Recent orthodox Islamic leaders have uncharacteristically accepted the Great Satan’s reefer madness ideology and deemed cannabis an intoxicant or haram and forbidden its use.

Enacted into criminal law as well as religious decrees, the use of hashish has significantly decreased during the same time that the horrors of intolerance and civil war have exploded in the Middle East. Is it a coincidence or is there a connection?

As any regular cannabis consumer will tell you, there is a more than a kernel of truth to the idea that if the Sunnis and Shiites shared a hookah brimming with hash before sitting down for peace negotiations, maybe the legendary ability of marijuana to calm, ameliorate, broaden perspective and induce tolerance might lead to a breakthrough in understanding and compromise.

Hard to see how it could make things any worse.

Although the Israeli/Palestine conflict is relatively new, if hashish consumption could reduce the friction between different segments of Arabic societies as it did in the past, then marijuana could even provide concrete help in this intractable imbroglio.

With death and destruction plaguing the Middle East from Egypt to Iraq, the problems are so extreme that very potent strains of cannabis would be needed to achieve any kind of breakthrough. Dabbing with concentrates might be just the ticket.

A simple and cost-effective experiment would be to provide and promote hash use before any Israeli/Palestine negotiations. If after one year of hash infused negotiations peace has not been achieved then concluding that these problems are so inexorable that even marijuana cannot save them would be justified.

However if the negotiations mitigated with hashish consumption actually bring about peace, then sharing a hookah or a joint at the beginning of all international negotiations whether it be in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa or at the United Nations would be part of established diplomatic protocols.

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