For this installment of our Hashmaker Q&A Series – where we take a behind-the-scenes look into the stories and labs of Hashtek users – we sat down and seshed with Hana, the lovely leading lady and one-half of Mission Hill Melts.
Mission Hill Melts started in a small apartment in Boston with one goal: “to provide the finest hand-made, high-quality, small-batch solventless concentrates to the discerning connoisseurs of New England.” Since its founding in 2015, the brand has won awards for its rosin, released products on the Rhode Island and Maine medical markets, started a solventless production consulting leg, hosted community events, and dropped some fresh apparel.
A lot has been going on over at MHM, so we couldn’t wait to chat with Hana – check out the interview to uncover her journey to discovering cannabis as medicine, what seeds are being popped as Mission Hill preps for its first single source run in almost two years (while also planning a wedding), why the Hashtek A-Series is perfect for their washroom, and more…
Hana’s Journey to Healing Through Hash
What was your personal journey to using cannabis as medicine and discovering hash?
When I was a sophomore in high school, my dad got sick. He was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia and his condition declined a lot faster than his doctors predicted. I have a cousin who is about 16 years older than me. He was the OG black sheep of the family before I came along. He’d come to visit my dad, and he would always tell me (out of earshot of my family) about how cannabis would really help my dad’s condition and ease his suffering. I grew up in a pretty conservative Muslim household, and in our religion, you’re not supposed to drink or consume substances that are “intoxicating.” Growing up in a sheltered household, I was always confused when he talked about this. I was always like, “You keep saying weed is going to help my dad but he’s dying and you’re trying to say he should do drugs!? Doesn’t make sense bro!”
A few years later, I was away at school, and I started having health issues myself that had been exacerbated by stress due to my dad’s illness. My friends noticed the health issues I was having and were like, “You should really just smoke some weed, this will help you.” I was hesitant at first, but the steroids I was being prescribed made me feel horrible so I decided to go for it. So it wasn’t until the second semester of my freshman year of college that I began my cannabis journey. It brought me immense physical relief, but I’m super asthmatic, and smoking flower is painful for me after an extended period of time, so I dove headfirst into edibles. I was making pretty standard cannabutter, originally. Pretty soon after I made a friend who was able to hook me up with a steady supply of some old-school hash and shifted to cooking exclusively with hash/hash butter. I also really got in touch with my roots during this time and made and drank a lot of “bhang lassi,” (bhang, which is a traditional Indian edible cannabis preparation with lassi, which is basically a yogurt-based shake – so essentially an infused shake). I used to make infused cupcakes and ride the elevator on the weekend selling them to everyone in my building.
You’ve said you are, “Dedicated to healing people through the plant.” What does that mean to you?
I am part of the cannabis industry because I’m a firm believer that cannabis is medicine, and I’ll bet my whole life on that. I’ve seen its medicinal effects with my own health issues and I’ve seen it bring relief to so many other people. Sadly, I come from a community that’s really conservative, and it’s truly my life mission to reintroduce cannabis as a medicine to these people. It makes no sense to me…I’m from India, and they literally grow cannabis in the hills. Cannabis is an integral part of spiritual practices and Ayurveda (holistic medicine). When the British colonized India, they demonized cannabis and portrayed it as a dangerous substance, linking it to crime and mental illness – pulling revenue away from the local industries and into the British liquor industry. Over time, traditional and conservative communities adopted this closed-off and stubborn mindset.
It’s really important to me to open people’s minds again. I think a lot about my dad, and how cannabis could have eased his journey and provided him some relief. Now, with my mom’s health issues progressing and persisting, it’s more important to me than ever. There are so many people whose lives could be improved by the medicinal effects of cannabis but they’re unreachable, and unless cannabis is destigmatized in these communities, it will remain that way. The reason I do this is because I want to ease people’s suffering. I’ve seen both sides of the coin. I know what it’s like to watch this person you love so dearly deteriorate in front of you. I know what it’s like to operate every day with a chronic illness. It’s really important to me to try to help people. I do it all in honor of my dad, who spent his entire life dedicated to helping others.
It starts with baby steps. My mom will never smoke weed in her life, but she takes five milligram RSO capsules at night when her symptoms are really persisting and she uses an RSO Tiger Balm that I make almost every day. It helps her with her nerve pain and makes it so that she doesn’t have to take tons of prescription medicines. It took me a long time to get her to try it. My sister is a doctor and it wasn’t until she really encouraged my mom to try products with cannabis that she was actually willing to do it.
So how did you go from selling edibles in an elevator to squishing at Mission Hill Melts?
After my freshman year of college in Ohio, I went back to Indiana where I grew up. I was going back and forth to Michigan to get my supply, and being a brown person in Indiana, it was just a very shady and sketchy thing to be doing. Sometimes I think about what would’ve happened if I had gotten in trouble…I would still be in jail today. It’s still super illegal over there.
Then my dad passed away in October 2014, and we moved to Massachusetts in December. I started trying to find supply in Massachusetts and it was very, very difficult for me to find anything of quality. I was working a corporate job and was really miserable, and the only thing making me not miserable was smoking copious amounts of weed. I had a friend in Rhode Island who was growing and making BHO, so I was smoking tons of that at that time because I knew where it came from and I trusted who was providing it to me. I can’t remember who introduced me to it, but I bought flower rosin from someone. It was Strawnana Mission Hill Melts flower rosin. I was like, “Oh shit, this is really good.” That’s where it all started…
The Makings of Mission Hill Melts
Okay, so let’s back up a bit….Tell me about how Mission Hill Melts came to be.
Adam started Mission Hill Melts in 2015. He thought he wanted to do restaurant stuff when he first started university, so he was doing an externship at a restaurant out in Los Angeles, California. Every minute of free time he had and any spare change he had, basically every bit of money he wasn’t spending on sustaining himself, he was going to dispensaries and buying the nicest flower he could find to squish. He was also buying bubble and squishing it on a hair straightener. During his time in LA, rosin hit the market. He returned to Massachusetts after his externship was over and had no supply. Thus, Mission Hill Melts was born – initially out of a desire for him to continue to have quality smoke in a place where there was none. From there, it turned into providing enough quality smoke to supply him AND his circle of friends, and it just kept growing.
And now you’re the leading lady! How did you get your start with the brand?
So Mission Hill was born in 2015, and I was in pastry school between the time that I moved to Massachusetts and when I met Adam. We met at an event in Boston called the Freedom Rally in the Boston Commons (the oldest city park in the US!). The Freedom Rally was originally an event organized to demand reforms around cannabis laws in Massachusetts and is now a large celebration. The Boston Commons gets smoked out by a bunch of people, there is live music, and what they call the Commonwealth Cannabis Competition (Adam has won a couple of those!). We were on the edge of each other’s social circles for a couple of years, and then we saw each other again in 2019 and stayed in touch, then reconnected and started dating in 2020 right before the pandemic began.
I started from the bottom with my first job at Mission Hill Melts. We had a detached garage where we were living and it had no water, and that’s where we were making hash. I would run a 100-foot line from the kitchen sink in our house, down and out into the garage, to fill up our reservoir the night before wash days. Because there was no water drainage in the garage, we would have to pump all of our used wash water back up into the house and down the kitchen sink. And so my second job was pulling the hose up from the garage into the kitchen sink and getting that set up for drainage. I started from humble beginnings!
Adam was super overworked, so I was like, “You should teach me how to do some of this stuff so I can help you. Let me help you.” I learned how to press, and I was like, “Oh, I like this. This is my job now, I’m taking this.” I guess I kind of commandeered my role, and once he taught me how to squish, I just kept doing it. I do lend a hand in the washroom on days when there are large washes or lots of washes.
Using The Hashtek A-Series In The Mission Hill Melts Lab
Compared to the days of running water from your kitchen sink to your garage, how has your lab evolved?
Now our washroom is roughly eight by nine feet, and we run a 100-gallon reservoir with an air conditioner linked up to a cool-bot. We have a stainless steel kitchen sink and a couple of stainless steel tables in there. We run a Hashtek 50 A-Series, which is the perfect size for the batches we run. With the size of our cold room and the height of our ceilings, it wouldn’t be really feasible for us to run one of the tilt units. So that’s why we run the 50 A and do what I call the “analog tilt” where we physically tilt our setup forward.
We have a Rosin Evolution can liner, and we use the Hashtek bag spreader. We made our own collection vessel with a 20-gallon brut that sits in an 80-gallon tote. The brute has a bunch of fist-sized holes drilled into the bottom so that the water can drain away into the tote. And then we have stainless steel tri clamps so that way we can pump everything back up, and it’s really great. We use a trigger pump to move water from our collection to our agitation or to drain water into the sink.
What are some of the benefits of having the Hashtek in your lab?
One of my favorite things about the Hashtek is being able to control my recirculating pump and my spray pump from the screen. It seems like kind of a small thing, but the ease of use and the convenience it provides are such game changers. I really love that. We like to do our prep the night before, so I’ll adjust all my settings, fill my res, turn on the AC, and line my trays and everything so that I’m ready to go for the next day. It makes things so much more efficient.
We also both have asthma, but I have less of a problem with inhaling fresh frozen than Adam does. If I spend a whole day in the washroom, I’ll start to feel wheezy, but I don’t need to rock the full respirator in the cold room like Adam does. Adam can’t even be near fresh frozen unless he’s wearing a respirator because it’s so rough on him. So it’s definitely helpful having the automation of the Hashtek machine, otherwise, he would end a wash day with deep, deep lines in his face from the respirator being so tight to his face for so long. It’s so nice how we’re able to shift in and out or work in shifts just to check on things and make sure everything is running okay.
Any tips or cheat codes for using your A-Series you can share?
Honestly, the Hashtek is built to be really straightforward, and I find that you don’t even really need a “cheat code.” So I don’t really have one, but I can tell you something I’m really excited about, though. Aleks and his team released a new software update that adds a pause feature between changes in direction, which is something Adam and I are very excited to play around with.
Streamlining Solventless Tasting
I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about your solventless tasting grid, which I absolutely love and use all the time! Why did you create this tool?
The tasting grid is something Adam had been talking about for a really long time. We have friends in all different locations, and as we make more friends, we make more friends in different places. You realize that regionality and language is a real thing, but it’s not something you actively think about when you’re having a conversation with someone. If I say gas, to me, that means one thing. But to someone else, because of where they’re from, it could mean a completely different thing. It really just stemmed from a place of wanting to create some kind of universal terminology so that we can all be on the same page when we’re having a conversation about hash. It’s really easy to say oh, this is a fruit terp, but what kind of fruit? Is it bright? Is it rotten? There are things that are more complex than just black and white. I think that as breeding evolves, and you see people crossing all of these crazy profiles together, you’re kind of unlocking all of these flavors that you wouldn’t necessarily think about.
It’s something that we wanted to be a super easily accessible resource for people. It’s not something I ever want to be behind a paywall. It’s something I want to continue to always upgrade. I just think it’s so fun. We just love terps. We love hash. We could sit here and talk about hash all day long. But I want to be able to have a universally understood conversation about hash. Like, I want to be able to talk about this hash in a way that we’re all on the same page about it.
So are any new upgrades to the grid coming soon?
We did a couple of new revisions for the one that we put out in January. I don’t think I have anything super new to add to it yet. But we did just pop like a gajillion seeds, so I am hoping that I find something super unique that I can add to it.
More On The Mission Hill Melts Menu
Speaking of, I was just about to ask what genetics you’re excited about…
We just got keys to our single source spot! So we are starting Mission Hill Melts Single Source again, which is really nice. It’s been like two years since the last time we did a single source run. I’m super excited and have a whole list of seeds that we popped. We tried to pop a nice variety of seeds…some old, some new. My favorite thing to do is pop work from our friends, so I’m really excited to see what comes of the beans from Little Lake Valley Seed Co, PNW Roots Kaya, MTS Farms, Kenjana Extracts, and Dammit Bobby. We also popped some old Dying Breed gear, Archive beans, and a bunch more. I don’t want to give away too much…you’ll just have to wait and see!
What’s the most important thing to you when putting together your menu?
We have batch minimums and maximums, and I feel like most people don’t do a batch maximum. I try not to take more than 10,000 grams of a specific flavor at a time for a processing cycle. I never want to have a lot of one thing sitting on my menu. Our menu right now has a lot of different flavors, but there isn’t a huge quantity of everything. Everything we do is very small batch, so on a lot of our gram jars, it will say “1 of out 60” for example. We’re blessed that we have a very diverse menu from gas to fruit and everything in between.
Watcha got in your personal smoke stash right now?
Right now, I am smoking on a bunch of stuff that we processed for Aloha Apothecary, an incredibly talented cultivator up here in Maine. He consistently grows some of my favorite terps. I have a little bit of Northsound Solventless that I’m smoking on, huge shoutout to Spencer, he is the best! I also just pulled out some Poisoned Apple melt from Spiral Light Farm. It’s really beautiful and has such lovely smoke.
Besides the very exciting news of starting back up your single source line, what else is happening over at Mission Hill Melts this year?
I have a lot of stuff that I want to do! More events, more apparel, more seeds, more terps. I’m also in the thick of wedding planning, we’re getting married in August…there’s a lot we’re excited about and we can’t wait for the future.