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Transmission

Soviet-Era Marijuana Still In Demand

Two-meter-high marijuana "forests" can be found in Chu Valley.
Two-meter-high marijuana "forests" can be found in Chu Valley.
Kyrgyz officials announced on August 29 that 4.5 tons of marijuana had been confiscated from illegal drug traffickers in the last seven days. It was specifically mentioned that the majority of the marijuana was confiscated in Kyrgyzstan's northern Chui Valley (known as the Chu Valley in Kazakh).

Shared between southern Kazakhstan and northern Kyrgyzstan, the Chu Valley has been one of the most infamous sources of marijuana in the former Soviet Union for as long as anyone can remember.

The Chu Valley's wild marijuana -- well known among drug users in the former Soviet republics as "dichka" -- was always of the "highest quality."

It was prized throughout the vast territory of the Soviet empire, which stretched from Brest (Belarus) to Vladivostok (Russian Far East) and from the Russian town of Salekhard in the north to the Turkmen city of Kushka in the south.

The Soviets did a lot to eliminate wild "dichka" plantations in the region. They burned the fields, used all possible and impossible pesticides, but it grew even better after all those measures.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chu's "dichka" continues to be in demand on both the territory of the former Soviet Union and beyond.

August is the month for marijuana harvesting in the region, as that is when the marijuana starts producing the resin that has such a narcotic effect on the human brain.

For mass producers of marijuana, the easiest way to process the drug is to cut the buds in August, dry them, and then sell them as "grass."

Sweating To Make Hash

However, the most concentrated and popular form of marijuana is so-called "plastilin" (plasticine), and the way it is harvested and produced has not changed for centuries.

It begins with a freshly showered person riding naked for hours on a clean, washed horse inside a two-meter-high "forest" of marijuana.

Afterwards, the human body and that of the horse are covered with a thick layer of resin mixed with sweat.
It only takes a few tiny pieces of "plastilin" to get high.
This produces a substance that is usually dark brown in color, which is then thoroughly scraped off the human and horse's bodies.

The mixture is subsequently pressed, molded into bars, and dried.

The "plastilin" that results from this process effectively comprises very concentrated marijuana bars.

A couple of small, pinhead-sized pieces from one of these bars added to a regular cigarette is enough to make the smoker happy.

This sort of marijuana is also very easy to carry or stash and is therefore very popular among drug users.

But it is a lot harder to produce this form of the drug because you need more time to make it.

Imagine 10, 20, or 30 individuals running or riding naked in a field of wild marijuana. It goes without saying that they are more exposed and it is easier to catch them. Nonetheless, people do it and they have been doing it since time immemorial.

And, of course, in Central Asia, there are people who can easily make local law enforcement officials "keep their eyes shut" during the harvest season, sharing with them either "plastilin" or the money earned from its sale.

For former Soviet citizens, it calls to mind a famous quote from the popular communist-era film "The White Sun of the Desert": "The east is a strange place, Pete!" ("Vostok -- delo tonkoe, Petrukha!").

-- Merkhat Sharipzhanov
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Comments
     
by: wishninja from: usa
August 29, 2011 19:15
FYI It is not pollen that gives the drug it's power, and naked horse riders is not the way it is harvested. Really neat concept though but no way it will work like the way you describe it.
In Response

by: Moderator from: Prague
August 30, 2011 05:53
The word "pollen" was corrected to "resin."

by: Galen from: Virginia
August 29, 2011 21:53
"They burned the fields, used all possible and impossible pesticides, but it grew even better after all those measures."

They used impossible pesticides? Not THAT is impressive.

by: Patient Patient from: San Francisco
August 30, 2011 05:28
Naked on horses? That's ridiculous for myriad reasons including inefficiency.

In most parts of the world, people simply sieve the dried plants through cloth to extract the trichomes, which are then pressed to form hashish.

But more to the point: when are we going to stop chasing the imaginary monster "marijuana" & start spending our finite resources wisely?

It's truly amazing to see an American invention -- the international prohibition of cannabis -- still being championed by so many countries around the world. To think that this only came about in 1961 via a UN convention, but is now considered sacrosanct is ever the more impressive & tragic. Harry Anslinger would indeed be very proud of his legacy.
In Response

by: Scott Bee from: Thailand
August 30, 2011 13:10
Patient, Patient,

Too true about the idiots on the hill!!! Quote the biggest idiot ever seen on the hill... "There's a time for politics and ....uh....uh....uh.... welll there's a time for politics!!" Duuuoooh! Now change the word politics for business!!! To me, the idiots have chosen their extreme path to self-destruction in every sense of the word since 1932 when pot / hemp was made illegal!!! IDIOTS!!!!

by: Tarzan from: Taraz, Kazakhstan
August 30, 2011 10:06
We do it here naked and sometimnes on horses. Sometimes we do it just with our hands. The following clip was shot in my native Djambyl region, in the Chu valley. Chu valley is the best!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbiV3_22ljQ&feature=related


by: barcode generator from: http://www.generate-barco
August 30, 2011 10:51
Really the act of naked horse riding is truly very ridiculous, I think this way of harvesting is not working, taking drugs and doing such is shameful.

http://www.generate-barcode.com
In Response

by: Virginia
August 30, 2011 19:09
That's what she said!
In Response

by: Aibek
September 01, 2011 08:38
I heard of people wearing leather vests and then scraping the goo off the vests.

But riding naked on a horse is more mystical, especially for a real 'jygyt' :)

by: Jack from: US
September 01, 2011 17:16
rather unprofessional article, dumbest urban legend I ever heard.
But if I were to give it a benefit of a doubt, the most potent part of "plastilin" would be scraped from under the tail of the horse (and the rider)

by: Rushkovski from: canada
September 09, 2011 20:16
As someone who came from Russia, I understand that certain traditions are hard to weed out, (cough, cough) and while it may not be the most efficient way of doing things its not unlikely the practice is still ongoing in certain communities. there is a Youtube vid apparently showing this, I can't view it to confirm though.

by: twistedme from: here
September 11, 2011 17:56
So than technically this is Tainted Hash

by: Yes from: Right here
September 14, 2011 11:48
"The "plastilin" that results from this process effectively comprises very concentrated marijuana bars."

No, it comprises HASHISH. ' 'Marijuana' is an Americanism from the Mexican slang They don't make hash in Mexico. Learn the way to describe something, especially as the word is older than the English language in its current form (as English isn't the first language)...

by: Harry F. Horse from: Reality City
September 16, 2011 11:22
Finger hash is taken from the palms and inside of the fingers because those places are hairless. I assure you that if those horses are not hairless when they start, they most certainly are by the time the job is done. Roll up a hank of horse hair sometime and take a nice big hit. Horses indeed.

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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