Dagga in SA – a brief look at history

There has been no cataclysmic event.  The 21st of December 2021 came and went just like every year before. On the same day, December 21, nine years earlier,  in 2012, the world did not end; nor did it on the first day in January 2000…  But the world, as we know it, is ending. Fact of the matter is:  these are revolutionary times people!  Revolutionary, I tell you!  
 
When I was (much) younger, I used to envy idyllic movements from prior generations – hippies, feminists, psychonauts, lesbians and gays… I admired their passion, their gusto;  their fierce determination to be seen and heard.  The way in which their efforts and actions influenced societal perceptions and altered the very foundations of Western culture.  I’ve lived with a sense that someone at “Incarnation HQ” messed up. As a result, I was born during the wrong decade… presumably 20 years late.  I now reconsider the notion.  “For the times they are a-changin’”  Bob Dylan’s words ring true now, as they did back in ‘64.  We are in the midst of huge change.  In the eye of the Revolutionary Storm of Reform.
 
To look to and finally take control of our own future, as both, sovereign beings and as a collective,  it is imperative to understand and consider the past.  It is important, however, to remain objective – without getting caught in the semantics and stickiness thereof, so that we are open to adopting the precious lessons offered, as our own.   
 
The use of marijuana dates back to, well, we could suppose, the beginning of human social and cultural development.  From an evolutionary standpoint, Cannabis originated around the Hindu Kush mountains (yes, the Kush Mountains) in southern Asia. Around 4,000 years ago, people in this region processed cannabis in two ways: for resin, called “charas”, and for the flowers. Indeed the original Hindi word for cannabis flower, dating back at least 3,000 years, was “ganja.” Sound familiar?
 
But let’s bring the conversation home.  Africa became a country of cannabis cultures long before the arrival of Europeans.  Despite all attempts to outlaw the use of dagga, it remains deeply ingrained in several tribal cultures and is used, for medicinal as well as recreational purposes by South Africans from all demographics.
The diffusion of dagga into Africa, particularly South Africa, has long been contested and various researchers have offered different models as to the time of entry and migration using a variety of sources and explanations and hypothesis. 
Smoking in Africa has been of particular interest to archaeologists and historians because of the significant number of smoking pipes that have been found at various sites across the continent.  A report in 1916 noted that South African mine workers were encouraged to smoke because “after a smoke the native work hard and show very little fatigue”. The usual mine practice was to allow three short smoke breaks, somewhat resembling coffee breaks, per day.  Although this may sound, to some, like an enjoyable practice, it points to the beginning of our own fascist colonial and apartheid approach towards cannabis and other psychoactive compounds.  But it wasn’t always like this.  Weed wasn’t always perceived in a negative light.
In 1965 the Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns published a book on traditional Afrikaner cures and recorded 89 of them with dagga as an ingredient.
Tribes throughout Africa also used cannabis in traditional medicinal practice.  The plant was used as a remedy for snake bite (Hottentots), to facilitate childbirth (Sotho), and among Zimbabweans as a remedy for anthrax, malaria, blackwater fever, blood poisoning, and dysentery.  It was also famous for relieving the symptoms of a condition believed to have been asthma.  

In the 1600s, the Dutch East India Company wanted to dominate the lucrative cannabis market, and forbade Cape settlers to cultivate it. This was unsuccessful, as the plant was readily available in the wild. As a result, the ban was lifted in 1700.
In 1860, Indian workers were brought in by the Natal Colony. These Indians brought with them their dagga consuming habits, which blended well with existing African practice. European authorities were concerned by this and banned it in 1870. By this time, cannabis was being referred to as the ‘noxious weed’.
By 1921, negative attitudes to cannabis had set in fully. It was fully criminalised in 1928, and the law remained this way until 2018 when it was decriminalized for personal use.
Many people don’t know that African countries, specifically Egypt and South Africa, played a crucial role in international cannabis criminalization in the early 20th century. In 1923, the office of Prime Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts requested that the League of Nations include Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica on the list of ‘dangerous drugs’, to be regulated by global narcotics law. He explained: “… from the point of view of the Union of South Africa, the most important of all the habit-forming drugs is Indian Hemp or ‘Dagga’.”
Yet, here we are, one of the countries at the forefront of reform!
The time? Now.  The change? Global and inevitable.   Do we actually have a say and/or a choice in the matter?  I say, Absolutely!  The way I see it, we have two choices:  

Option A)  Convert our and matchbox apartments into spaces resembling fall-out shelters, lock the doors, draw the curtains and, finally, embrace the ineluctable darkness which is loadshedding. Remain quiet and fall back in line.

Option B) If the opportunity presents itself, stand up and say:  “Shut up and listen!”.  
Share accurate information.  Research!  Just because you read something on social media, doesn’t mean it’s true!  If you read or hear something that sounds interesting, go on a fact checking expedition.
 
Check in with your health practitioner

Before starting a protocol or supplementation, check with your health care practitioner.  Especially if you are using prescription medication as there may be drug interactions.
 
Don’t be irresponsible
If you are not a doctor nor have you received any formal training, don’t recommend or “prescribe” CBD or THC treatments for anybody other than yourself.  These are amazing and do have many benefits, however, there is no “one size fits all”  when it comes to health.  Each of us are unique, with different reactions to compounds and different predispositions.  
 
Always read labels
Check ingredients.  Not all CBD/THC products are created equal.  Look for companies that are transparent with their lab test results. It’s important to look whether mycotoxicin (the toxic substance created by fungus) exists in the sample, if there are any pesticides or heavy metals present, and if there are any residual chemical solvents left over from extraction. Some oils/vapes/cosmetics/tinctures may contain contaminants like lead, cadmium, bacteria, and mold.
 
For first time in modern history,  we could really have control over our own physical and mental health care.  We could make our own decisions regarding prevention and treatment of dis-ease. Imagine a world where normal people get to contribute, and play an active roll, in the development of health care protocols and practices, prohibitions and law enforcement, agriculture and resource reform; not only in our personal capacity, communities and in Africa, but ultimately, as humans.