Puffco: Tell me a little bit about where you grew up. What your family was like? What was your relationship with cannabis in your family?
Mila: Well, in my early life, there was no cannabis. My parents had probably never heard of it. I started smoking when I was 21. So that was in ’64 and mind you, I never stopped smoking since. From my first toke I knew it was my drug of choice. It was love at first toke. It was great but it didn't come from my family at all. In fact for many years, I was probably their outcast, you know, the black sheep of the family. But nowadays they're finally picking up and they're realizing the world is changing and they're more accepting nowadays.
Puffco: Where did your love for hash first begin? What was your first interaction with hash?
Mila: Well, the first time I smoked hash was actually with an ex-boyfriend of mine and he was studying medicine and wanted to see the effect of hash on someone who smokes it. He went out and in Amsterdam in those days there was no weed at all and all he could get was a match box full of hash, so brought it home and we rolled the joint, and I smoked it. Then he watched and I just rolled on the floor laughing, laughing. That was my first introduction.
Puffco: When did hash become a pursuit?
Mila: Well from Amsterdam I hitchhiked to India in ‘68 with my three-year-old daughter. I ended up living in India till ’80 basically. That's when I moved back to Amsterdam. And when I left, there was only some hash on the black market available. When I returned there was suddenly 260 coffee shops and all of them sold weed. I had never run into weed because the thing is that in Asia and India – actually all the way from Northern Africa to China everybody smokes hash. I could never find hash in Amsterdam whereas in Asia, in India, actually all the way from Northern Africa to China, everybody smokes hash. And there are many theories about that, but I can imagine just like with me, they preferred hash. So I was there in India, smoked hash the whole time. Came back to Holland, suddenly there was weed everywhere, which I didn’t like. I tried it a few times, but I'd already been smoking hash for like 20 years by then. So it wasn't a new thing. I was growing in those days. It wasn't considered such a bad thing in Holland, in fact, people were waiting for legalization, which never came.
Puffco: What were you doing before you got into the cannabis business? How were you supporting your family? What brought about your move to India?
Mila: Before I left for India, I had a boutique where we sold the first miniskirts and a tea house that was closed by the cops because people were coming from long distances and everybody was smoking so I had to close that. Then I decided to quit and move to India where we were going to start a new way of life. We were quite fed up with the Western way of life and it was marvelous in India in those days. Afghanistan was great, I hitchhiked through there and they were always welcoming people and it always hurts me that nowadays people have such a bad image of the Afghanis because they were so warm and welcoming. We all smoked happily together so everyone were brothers and it was a fantastic country.
Puffco: It sounds like you were looking for a new life, how did your life change? What were your takeaways when you eventually came back to Amsterdam? What was that new way of life?
Mila: In those days you had a great freedom. There was nobody telling you where to send your kid to school. There was nobody telling you that you couldn't go here, there, or anywhere. So we lived there sometimes like farmers, having a vegetable plot in the mountains. And sometimes we lived on the beach in Goa and had parties. It was a good way of life. I enjoyed it very much and I learned along the way how different people were making hash. So when I came back to Holland and didn’t like weed, I started growing in those days to support my kids. So I had the material and I'd seen in the East different methods of making hash, so I started making my own hash to smoke on a flat screen. It took about an hour to make enough for one spliff until one night I'm standing in front of my clothes dryer and I realized that the tumbling of those clothes inside the dryer is what I'm doing manually over a screen. So the next day we got a clothes dryer and put a screen around the drain and remove the heat, threw in material and lo and behold, crystals fell down and they all lay on bottom. And that was the beginning of the Pollinator.
Puffco: Was that the first like method of extracting hash?
Mila: This was definitely the first mechanical method. I mean, they'd been making it for thousands of years, but it was always a manual job. They were rubbing it, or sifting it, or whatever they were doing. This was the first mechanical method. Ultimately, I think that's why they call me the “hash queen”. Because on its own it started off a huge thing in the West. People hadn’t been aware they could make hash. Many people in America didn't even know what hash was. I mean, I remember meeting some guy and he thought that it came out of the factory, like a chocolate factory. They had no idea it was even related to the cannabis plant. So I think it took over, a lot of people started showing interest, as is normal. Now there are many new developments, which I think is great because nothing should remain stagnant. I mean, I'm very happy. I'm still selling my products, but nowadays it has evolved, and people have come out with new methods, new products and that's good. It should evolve.
Puffco: What did your career in hash become? Tell me about the products and the business moves that you've made.
Mila: At the beginning I started the business with about $3,000. All my money. So we built about three Pollinators. I had luck on my side at that time. Rob Clark first showed it to the world. And I think he was probably out of one of the very few people who realized its importance in history. Then we used to travel around the country to different shops and tell them about the product. We made money mainly through on the spot sales to shops and we slowly grew and grew and grew. I had an American friend and she used to write for High Times. She wrote an article about us so that was very lucky. We started getting some orders from the states. I don't know over here, they say, if you do anything long enough, you'll become special. So I guess I've been doing this for 26 years
Puffco: What is it like watching the evolution of things like BHO?
Mila: So for me, I never got into this BHO. I don't like chemicals. Especially in the beginning when people were so proudly showing it to you. They have not properly cleaned it so it just tasted of some horrible cleaning chemical. I must say the rosin. I have a hard time, cause it's often so sticky to roll it in. But for me a dab is like smoking a whole joint in one toke. It's a bit intense. So I like to smoke it.
Puffco: What’s your favorite hash? What's the best hash you've ever smoked?
Mila: I have an answer for that. The best hash I ever smoked is the one I'm smoking right this second. Cause this is the one that's happening now. This is not in the future. It's not in the past. I can tell you about the most memorable smoking hash occasion though. Up in the mountains, in the Himalayas, we had gone up the side dunes. Religious men were going to show up and go up in the mountains and show us their favorite pants. These were plants that had grown in a little hollow, being covered by snow, a winter. I mean, you're out 3,000 meters, 9,000 feet or whatever. And they survived. They would grow again. The second year, the leaves would be small. They looked like a bomb site, going in all directions. And it was more like an acid trip. The colors, the water running down the hill side and the flowers. So brilliant in color. It was a beautiful location and a beautiful occasion. So that's the time that always stands out in my memory.
Puffco: What has it been like as a female in a predominantly male dominated industry?
Mila: I think in general I don't really have a problem with anybody. Because well, up until a few years ago, there was no competition. I ran into small companies, new drug companies, all those companies. And, you know, we all got on. Well now of course there is some other businesses that takes over some of our business. I wish them well. It is the way it is. And just I'm happy with what I'm doing.
Puffco: Do you have any advice for women in cannabis?
Mila: If she wants to make hash, I would say be very strict to yourself and only take the best. You know like with my dry sift machine, put the material in frozen, preferably have it in a frozen space because then the crystals get hard, like glass. So they'll just bounce right off that pan and fall to the bottom. Then people get greedy and they want more, but they forget that eventually, yeah, all that green leaf is going to pulverize. And basically, as soon as it starts going light green, stop it because everything you're going to collect more is what you don't want. And the first five, 10 minutes is the best. If you look under a microscope, it looks like caviar. You see nothing but little balls. There's nothing else in there. So that also, if you use more ice, whether it's in the bags or in the washing machine, people usually put in enough ice in the beginning, but they forget that the ice melts. That’s why I always say, if they're using a washing machine, as soon as you stop hearing it clunk around inside the machine that means you have to add more and as you keep the temperature, I'm not quite sure with Fahrenheit. I know in centigrade It's about four degrees above zero. That seems to be the perfect temperature. At that temperature, the water is exactly 10 by 10 by 10 centimeters and weighs one kilo. So that's apparently the best temperature to do it in the water. Yeah. And also as long as the temperature is good, like in these bubbler washing machines, usually people do it about three times. Every time, about 10, 15 minutes. I did it right to the end. I did it seven times one time just to see what would happen. I did always add the ice, so even the seventh time, there was not one speck of green that came out with it. But it was only enough for one spliff, you know, so it's not really worth it. The first three times you're going to be a get a pretty good harvest. Yeah.
Puffco: What are the yields like? How much does a plant one plant yield?
Mila: Depends on the web, but mainly it depends on the genetics. I mean, if she just looked at photographs of buds, you'll see it in some of, in bags and under less, and some have lots of tiny buds and others have some big buds. So you shouldn't get somewhere between yeah. On the whole plant. It's difficult to say in all and be only growing doors. So they don't get much above two or three feet tall. And it's nothing compared to an outdoor plant. It's like a 10 feed tall outdoors. So, but I would imagine if it's a good glance, you should get between eight and 15% pure hash.
Puffco: What’s your ritual with cannabis like?
Mila: First one is as soon as I get it made. Then I go make some coffee. Second one. Then I start looking at my laptop or my phone. I probably have a third one by then. And I've had enough of that. Then I jump on my bicycle. I get my daily exercise by going to the grocery store. It’s about 25 minutes on the bicycle. So I go there and back, I think that's also what keeps me healthy. Cycling for an hour helps my immune system. I help our managers, but I don't really need to help out much. They're pretty good at doing everything sells. But occasionally I have to intervene with point them right direction. I come home, cook my dinner. I always cooked in here. I'm not to take out a person. Now in the evenings everybody has to be home before nine o'clock so I tend to fall asleep earlier nowadays.
Puffco: Thank you, Mila.