On 18 September, 2018 the South African Constitutional Court ruled the private use of marijuana legal. This gave many Rastafarians and weed smokers a reason to rejoice, but it left a lot of citizens scratching their heads too.
For many, the ‘holy herb’ and hemp are one and the same – they have been for many years, so what will the new law change, really? I’m hoping to give you some clarity. We wouldn’t want consumers with discriminating tastes to accidentally buy a product they weren’t bargaining for.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is the non-hallucinogenic strain of the cannabis sativa plant. To the untrained eye, hemp bears a striking resemblance to its debaucherous cousin. But it is the lighter shade, the thinner leaves, and the taller height that sets it apart. Hemp is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, making it the perfect material to utilise on an industrial and commercial scale.
Can I get high from Hemp?
Absolutely not. While marijuana is made up of 15% – 40% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound with psychoactive properties, hemp contains less than one percent.
How can I use it?
While hemp has trace amounts of THC in it, it is rich in Cannabidol (CBD). We’ve seen the emergence of, and growing popularity in CBD products since the legalisation of marijuana. Hemp oil, or the more concentrated CBD oil have proven to offer effective pain relief, combat anxiety and depression, aid digestion, fight cancer-forming cells, reduce the risk of diabetes, treat sleep issues and has anti-seizure properties too.
But many people have been using hemp in many ways for many years:
Hempcreate or Hemplime is a non-toxic building material made up of hemp hurds, lime and sand. Its origin is up for debate as cannabis has been outlawed and decriminalised several times across the entire globe.
The sturdy substitute is easier to use than regular concrete, but don’t be fooled by the biodegradable materials used to produce hempcrete bricks. Any structure you build today will still be sitting pretty 100 years from now if you so wish. Knock it down and you won’t have to worry about the rubble loitering as nature’s elements will get to work breaking down the material.
Hemp has also been woven into wearable clothing and usable accessories. Hydrating moisturizers and face masks have been made hemp, as it contains high levels of essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) that get to work evening out your wrinkles.
The seeds from this versatile plant contain 31.6g protein per 100g. They are also a great source of vitamin E, potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron and calcium. Eat them raw, cooked or roasted for a healthy dose of amino acid that will protect your heart. Women who suffer from menstrual cramps or symptoms of menopause can look forward to the Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in hemp seeds that alleviate your hormonal issues.
Before the legalisation law was passed, there was a stigma associated with hemp products and anyone dealing with hemp. Thankfully the government has made an effort to chip away at those terrible misconceptions. The department of health and agriculture has issued permits for a group of farmers in Newcastle, KZN, to cultivate 1,000ha of hemp, making it the world’s largest licensed commercial cannabis sativa farm.
If you’re based in Cape Town, you may have heard of the coffee overs infusing their love of java with their desire to preserve their bodies. For R280 you can get 250g of CBD-infused ground coffee or roasted beans to enjoy at home. The Canna Coffee family produce an organic blend that makes you more energetic and focused, while reducing your stress levels. ‘No more coffee shakes’ they promise.
And while the felines enjoy catnip, your canine might bark a little more enthusiastically for hemp-infused dog biscuits developed by Noordhoek-based company From The Barkery. Each packet comes with 15 biscuits that contain 5mg of CBD, so you needn’t worry that you’re giving your furry friend anything he can’t handle. Even From The Barkery founder, Ceri Phillips, shares that she was inspired to make the treat when her own dig was diagnosed with a lung tumour.
Though it seems like investing in a few hemp products is a no-brainer, I would always advise you do your research before purchasing and using a product for the first time. If you can, consult a medical professional to ease your mind.