Mila, better known as the "Hash Queen," is a Dutch legend. A single mother, traveler, spiritual practitioner and inventor, Mila has led a life full of adventure, a whirlpool of love, heartbreaks and hash. She has trekked throughout India, Afghanistan, Europe, and California, pioneering the cannabis industry. Today, the 73-year-old cannasseur is finishing a trip to Los Angeles, a stop along the tour for her new book, Mila: How I Became the Hash Queen.
Mila invented the first machine to separate the crystal from the rest of the plant material in order to make hash. For thousands of years, the making of hashish had always been a manual job, she explains. "I started off manually fluffing up the material, and eventually some crystal went through the screen," Mila recounts. One day she found herself in front of a clothes dryer tumbler and thought to herself, "What those clothes are doing in the tumbler is exactly what I'm trying to do by hand." Inspired by her realization, Mila got a secondhand dryer, ripped out the heating parts, and put cannabis material through it. "Lo and behold, the crystals were lying at the bottom," she recalls. "That was the beginning of the whole thing that's now a super expensive extraction machine."
Nowadays, that machine is called the Pollinator. "It holds the drum that tumbles, and the drum is surrounded by a screen, and if you put the dried material in there, everything that's worthwhile will fall through the screen," Mila says of her invention. "Eventually the little stems that the crystals sit on will start passing through, and some of the leaves will crumble up. You just want to have the pure crystals, and if you look under the microscope it looks like caviar."
Mila has been smoking pot for 54 years now. The first time she smoked pot was in 1964. "In those days you would buy a whole matchbox full," she says. "I remember I was rolling on the ground laughing, it was immediately love at first experience, and basically I never stopped smoking since that time." In those days, you couldn't get cannabis flower in Amsterdam — just hash. It came from the East, places like Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, even China or Thailand.
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From Amsterdam, Mila moved on to live in India for 14 years, where she watched and engaged with the local people there who were making hash. When she returned to the Netherlands, she began growing her own weed and experimenting with hash methodology.
Despite Amsterdam's reputation for cozy, cannabis coffee shops, Mila bemoans how far behind she thinks the Netherlands has fallen in terms of the global cannabis industry. "It's a beautiful city, Amsterdam, but one thing that's not good is that nothing gets tested there," she says. "If it does get tested, it's for THC and cannabinoids, but never for pesticides or nutrients or anything like that. It's very strange, and I really like that over here [in California], things are tested and you know what you're taking."
Overall, the quality of the weed you get in California is now so much better than in Amsterdam, she says. "I really like over here that all the time people are developing new stuff, new strains, while over there it's stifled," Mila says. "I really love how things are just moving along over here — it's really amazing, and it's a very positive, striving community. I hope it keeps on growing."