The homepage image shows – at the Royal Albert Dock in East London working on hemp cordage for rigging – a group of lascars.
Lascars were block-hired crew from east of the Cape – i.e., Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
Mostly Muslims – Egyptian, Somali, Indian, Malay, Thai – lascar maritime labourers typically shunned alcohol in favour of opium and cannabis, whether hashish from the ports of the Mediterranean or tropical bud from the Indian Ocean – i.e., ganja.
More or less invisible to popular pot consciousness and modern countercultures, lascars were central to the worldwide diffusion of cannabis, crewing ships during the Age of Sail, the era during which cannabis became the global phenomenon it is today, primarily through the form of ganja.
For the ‘Cannabis & Alchemy’ episode the plan is to go deeper into the esoteric roots of cannabis culture – not least the origins of the so-called ‘sinsemilla technique’, which was already described at least five hundred years ago in East India by Nath alchemists.
Sinsemilla has a much older name – ganja – and shares roots with other more recently globalised siddha traditions such as Tibetan Buddhism and hatha yoga….