In life the best connections and stories always happen organically. One person I’ve always wanted to sit down and chat with was Bubbleman. I’d met him more than 20 years ago in Amsterdam at my mentor Soma’s house and we’d bump into each other over the years at events and conferences, but we never had a proper sesh with just the two of us. In life I’m always drawn to people who have an unwavering passion and with Bubbleman that passion is all about the trichome heads and the hash that can be made from them.
Having used his bags to make hash in Amsterdam since the early 2000s, I really wanted to learn what had inspired his journey into the world of hash and the origins of the man that is known the world over as Bubbleman. Our conversation was an amazing journey into the history that shaped one of the cannabis industry’s great innovators and how he would become so intrinsically connected to hash. His unwavering desire to give back to the community has led to a vast collection of information, videos, and images that are openly available online. From his YouTube page Bubbleman’s World, with millions of views and over 100,000 subscribers to the weekly episodes of Hash Church that he has hosted, if one desires to consume all of this content they will have an amazing view into the history of hash-making techniques from all over the world.
Marcus Richardson grew up in the Canadian prairies in Manitoba. He was always drawn to the cannabis plant and was an early hemp pioneer and activist, who discovered cannabis early in his life and found it to be the medicine he needed. After starting with flower he quickly discovered that hash worked better for his system. This was the seed that would germinate and eventually bloom into a world filled with full melt, clear dome bubble hash, dry sift, and hashish.
This journey would take him all over the world as he traveled to countries that specialized in local hash traditions. One picture of him that always stood out to me was a photograph of him sitting next to an Indian holy man or Baba, who was staring at the camera intensely because he couldn’t understand how the button would be pressed in order to snap their picture. Of course there was a remote tethered to the SLR camera that could be pushed, Bubbleman told me. He went on to explain that the holy man, named Pashupadi, had approached him because his hash smelled so good and he wanted to try some. The hash in question was a phenomenal piece of Nepalese resin. Even in the mid ’90s in Nepal, Bubbleman sourced some of the finest hash available.
These adventures searching the world for the finest hash would also lead him to Amsterdam and some of the early Cannabis Cups, his first being in 1995. It was in Amsterdam he would meet and befriend many of the early hash and cannabis pioneers that had found shelter in the Dutch city due to its lenient cannabis policies. In Amsterdam he met people like Rob Clarke (the author of Hashish), Soma (an American cannabis breeder), and Sam The Skunkman (the legendary creator of the skunk strain, and many other early cannabis strains). These journeys would lift the veil on some of the rarest and cleanest hash of the time, including one of the earliest examples of BHO extract.
At the 1999 cup he was at the Nose’s house, (he was an original celebrity Cannabis Cup judge and a local hash connoisseur). While sitting around the table Bubbleman witnessed butane being pushed through a Bic pen, stuffed with flower and hash. The butane pushed out some of the strongest oil Bubbleman had tried at that point and was one of the earliest firsthand examples of BHO being used to make a concentrate.
Here was someone that had been in the right place at the right time and got to bear witness to hash products and the techniques that made them from a majority of the hash making countries in the world. This exposure to extraction and separation of the trichome heads would lead him down multiple hash rabbit holes, giving him a vast almost encyclopedic knowledge surrounding global hash culture. Through these experiences he would coin the term “the hash quiver.” Borrowing from archery, the quiver can hold different pieces of hash and different techniques for making them.
During one of his trips to Amsterdam a valuable new hash arrow would find its way into his quiver: ice water extracted hash, or bubble hash.
At the 1997 Cannabis Cup, Swiss inventor Reinhard Delph gave a demonstration at hash queen Mila Jansen’s house. Two other people were there, an early cannabis entrepreneur named Mark Rose and a cannabis activist named Eldon. It was here that an important part of hash history occurred. The three watched as Reinhard made ice water hash using his Ice Cold Extractor. The device, a conical shaped metal drum, would be filled with biomass, ice, and water. Unlike the modern ice water bag system, this machine relied on the maturity of the trichome head. The biggest and most ripe heads would easily break away and get collected in the down stem of the funnel at the base of the machine. After the demonstration Eldon thought why not just use nylon bags with screens at the bottom draped into different buckets. This way you can pour the ice cold agitated water through each screen, separating the trichome heads and isolating the desired sized head. Rose suggested they call it the Ice-O-Lator bag system. Eldon unfortunately never benefited in any way from the invention he helped create but he will be remembered as having a crucial place in the history of ice water hash.
At that same cup in 1997, Bubbleman was walking up a set of Dutch stairs to a restaurant and passed by Rob Clarke who was sitting on one of the stairs to the restaurant looking at some hash. He said to Bubbleman, “If it don’t bubble, it ain’t worth the trouble.” This phrase stuck in Bubbleman’s head, and would eventually become the slogan for his product, Bubble Bags.
Months after launching his bag system, Bubbleman would be contacted by Sam The Skunkman. Sam emailed him to see where he had heard that expression before and to clarify that he was the first to have coined it, and he told Clarke. Bubbleman’s polite and respectful response to this email started their decade-long friendship and the slogan remained part of Bubble Bags’s branding.
Immediately after that 1997 cup Rose went out and made a prototype bag set called the Ice-O-Lator system. The original bags were made in Kathmandu in Nepal. The Ice-O-Lator system was a big hit at the 1998 Cannabis Cup but quickly thereafter Jansen would go her own way and she started selling and manufacturing the Ice-O-Lator bags without Rose. Shortly thereafter, Bubbleman and Rose partnered up and launched the Bubble Bags in late 1998.
Thinking about ways to improve the process, Bubbleman and Rose adjusted the micron sizes of the new bags and started using parachute thread and nylon kite material so that the bags could be dried and remoistened over and over again without any fear that the fabric will pile and leave remnants behind in the hash. They also added a third bag with a 45-micron screen to their original set. Eventually they would introduce a 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-bag kit giving the hash maker various choices when it came to separating their different sized heads. It wasn’t too long after the launch that the term bubble hash would enter the cannabis culture vernacular.
What sets these bags apart from other ice water screens is the rich culture associated with their history and founder. These bags trace their origin to a golden era of cannabis celebrated every year in Amsterdam at the Cannabis Cup. By buying Bubble Bags you are buying into a bit of history documented through the lens of a man driven by his love of hash and the vast methods to produce it. You are also buying a bag that to this day is manufactured using the same high standards as when it first debuted in 1998. Each bag is still covered by a lifetime guarantee and backed up by a support network on YouTube containing thousands of hours of tips, tricks, and facts about hash and ice water extraction. Bubbleman’s World on YouTube has amassed millions of views and also has every episode of Hash Church produced. This fireside table style zoom discussion featuring hashmakers and cannabis legends talking openly about a vast range of topics in the world of hash making.
When asked about the future of hash in the now growing legal world of commercial cannabis, Bubbleman explained that he wants to be the bridge between the new and the experienced.
Not everyone coming into a cannabis store wants to spend top dollar on six-star melt (top quality ice water hash) or live rosin. The average consumer might be new to this world. That’s why he is once again on the cutting edge of hash products and is launching a dugout style one hitter filled with a 0.25 gram of hash, called HashHits. The product just launched in Washington state and will be launching in more states across the U.S. and Canada sometime this year.
What makes the product so unique is that you only need a lighter to experience a great hit of hash. This makes it super easy and accessible for new users that might be hesitant to try the different types of resin due to the high cost of a smoking device needed to truly enjoy a hit.
Bubbleman has once again added an important arrow to the hash consumer’s quiver and opened the door for a new generation of hash heads to enter the community.
This article was originally published in the July 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.