Thick-rolled joints, sticky tar-like concentrates, CBD-drops for pets and Bibles. All made from the Cannabis plant. However, the sensibilities of many might struggle to associate the image of a dagga zol and a Bible in the same sentence, yet that is the diverse nature of this controversial yet healing plant.
Cannabis – in the form of Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, C. ruderalis or hybrid strains – has been used for millennia for a multitude of uses.
The fibres of hemp, the non-psychoactive form of Cannabis, were used to make ropes, soldiers’ uniforms and sails for ships conquering new colonies and once there, to print Bibles and stamps. Hemp plant fibres, depending on the length, are used to weave textiles, produce paper and to manufacture building materials – from sound insulation panels in rooms to compressed fibre panels for vehicles.
Protein-rich hemp seeds are eaten, used for biofuels and pressed to extract seed oil. Hemp seed oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids which are linked to a reduction in inflammation.
The cannabinoid CBD (short for cannabidiol) is held in high esteem and proven by extensive scientific research for its health benefits including relief from skin conditions and sleeplessness to easing arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. (CBD-oil is extracted from the plant material of the hemp plant and not from the seeds.)
Closely related to CBD is the phytocannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), considered the bad boy of cannabis due to its psychoactive nature.
Often used in full-spectrum medical-grade applications THC eases nausea and PTSD and contributes pain-relieving, anti-bacterial benefits to the medical cornucopia of the plant.
Medical marijuana is most often used for its pain-relieving benefits and is found safer than opiates – the latter often linked to overdosing and addiction.
Cannabis can be used in various forms – not only rolled joints – which should appeal to non-smokers and parents of children and pets. The sticky full-spectrum concentrates are often combined with olive or coconut oil and can be used as tinctures for skin application or for oral dosing. Cannabis can be used as patches to ease rheumatism or strained muscles, in suppositories for children or as drops to ease anxiety and pain in pets.
Smoking cannabis provides the quickest effect and can be done in the form of smoking the buds, crystals or using it in a vape pen.
Of course, not all forms and dosages of cannabis is legal in South Africa and the recommendation of a health care provider is advised.