Cannabis as a crop promotes equity in Africa. Rural farmers make a living cultivating and selling cannabis. And South African farmers are no different.
Yet, the legality of cannabis has always been a tricky subject. And now that cannabidiol (CBD) has hit the market, the industry has even more grey areas than ever. So, you may be wondering: is CBD legal in South Africa?
The South African government recently rescheduled CBD. It’s now legal to purchase CBD if you have a prescription. And anyone can buy CBD supplements, whether you have a doctor’s recommendation or not.
What’s the difference between prescription CBD and CBD supplements? And where and why should you buy them? Keep reading to find out.
A Brief History of Cannabis and Hemp in Africa
Historians estimate that African farmers have been growing cannabis and hemp for at least a millennium. It’s thought that the plant emerged in Madagascar first. Over time, it spread across the rest of the continent.
Africans and South Africans have historically used cannabis — or dagga — for a variety of purposes.
Some harvested the fibres to make hemp cloth, while others processed the stems and leaves into topical medications. And still others smoked or consumed edible hemp flowers for their psychoactive properties.
With its popularity and multifaceted uses, cannabis cultivation began to spread from its North African origins to the southernmost African country.
When Did Cannabis and Hemp Come to South Africa?
No one knows exactly when cannabis first came to South Africa. But we do have records of explorers mentioning cannabis gardens growing in South Africa before colonization.
We also know that this plant has been a part of the local economy since at least the 17th century. Some historians believe it may have arrived in the country much sooner, as records of cannabis use date back to at least 1580.
By the mid- to late-eighteenth century, more and more Western explorers were recording mention of cannabis in South Africa. They also wrote about how local South Africans used cannabis as a hunger suppressant and, of course, for its ability to induce euphoria.
When Did Cannabis and Hemp Become Illegal in Africa?
Cannabis’ legality started coming into question because of colonization. At first, it was because the Dutch arm of the East India Trading Company wanted to monopolize cannabis production to maximize profits.
As such, South African colonizers prohibited colonists from growing it from 1680–1700. The East India Trading Company failed to commercialize cannabis in the rest of the world, eventually paving the way for it to become legal once more.
Over the next few centuries, the legality of cannabis fluctuated wildly. But it wasn’t until 1922 that South Africa made cannabis completely illegal. Regulation 14 criminalized the growth, possession, use, and sale of cannabis.
Yet, even before Regulation 14, South African colonies had attempted to criminalize cannabis. This began in 1860 when colonists started bringing workers from India to South Africa.
These workers brought their cannabis habits with them, leading the Cape, Natal, and Transvaal colonies to ban its use.
Though cannabis became legal again in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Regulation 14 effectively banned all cannabis use in Africa. This included cannabis possession, sale, cultivation, and use in South Africa.
Are Cannabis and Hemp Legal in Africa and South Africa Today?
Unfortunately, cannabis is still illegal in Africa and South Africa in 2021. However, the South African parliament is currently reviewing the Department of Health-backed Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill.
This bill proposes to decriminalize the possession and use of cannabis in public and private places. It will also allow citizens to privately cultivate a certain number of cannabis plants in the privacy of their own homes.
Experts project this bill could create thousands of jobs. And the government hopes to raise up to $1.9 billion or 28 billion rands from the commercialization of cannabis. Keep an eye on our blog for more updates.
Is CBD Legal in South Africa in 2021?
South Africa was the first African country to legalize the use of CBD oil. South Africans can now legally purchase, possess, and use up to 20 mg of CBD per day.
For the law to consider a product legal, the CBD must come from hemp plants. And these hemp plants must contain up to 0.2% THC by weight.
Under this new regulation, the government rescheduled CBD as a Schedule 4 drug. But some preparations don’t fall under a drug schedule at all. Here’s what you need to know about this new regulatory structure for CBD.
Under its new regulations, South Africa considers CBD supplements Schedule 0 compounds. That means they’re completely legal to buy and use. But what does South Africa consider a CBD supplement?
South Africa considers any product containing less than 600mg of CBD per bottle a supplement. The instructions must also state a dosing recommendation of only 20 mg per day. These products can be oils, but CBD e-liquids and edibles can also fall into the supplement category.
Also, legal CBD products must contain no more than 0.001% THC. This is only a trace amount of THC. So, to avoid accidentally purchasing an illegal product, we recommend sticking to CBD isolate in South Africa as isolates are THC-free.
Schedule 4 CBD
All other types of CBD (i.e., any CBD product containing over 600 mg of CBD) fall under Schedule 4 of the Medicines Act. The Medicines Act defines a Schedule 4 drug as a Prescription Only Medication.
That means you need a doctor’s recommendation to buy CBD products containing more than 600 mg of CBD. To get a prescription, you must suffer from a condition that CBD is known to treat.
Which conditions can CBD treat? In other words, for which conditions can you get a Schedule 4 CBD prescription in South Africa? We’re talking about the benefits of CBD next, so keep reading.
The Benefits of CBD
CBD was the second cannabinoid ever discovered. In 1940, a scientist called Roger Adams isolated CBD and determined its structure. This was only a decade after R.S. Cahn synthesized the original cannabinoid: cannabinol (CBN).
Since the 1940s, CBD research has come a long way. Here are some of the CBD benefits we’ve learned about so far.
CBD for Epilepsy
The United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever CBD-based medication for use in 2018. Doctors can prescribe these medications for individuals with rare forms of treatment-resistant epilepsy.
In studies, CBD has been shown to reduce seizure frequency by up to 23%. It may also reduce seizure severity and prevent epilepsy complications, including brain cell death and the development of psychiatric disorders.
CBD for Pain
Pain is another condition for which we have a ton of research about CBD’s benefits. In fact, pain is arguably the most research-proven benefit of CBD.
CBD affects pain in two different ways. The first is by regulating the actual perception or feeling of pain. The second way CBD influences pain is through its ability to influence inflammation.
Influencing the perception of pain has particular implications for neuropathy. Neuropathy is a chronic pain condition that arises from nerve damage. This condition is notoriously difficult to understand and treat, making CBD an exciting potential therapeutic.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may benefit autoimmune conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, and Rheumatoid arthritis. Since chronic inflammation is a risk factor for chronic and neurodegenerative diseases, you can see why so many are interested in CBD.
CBD for Mental Health
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental illnesses in South Africa. And many of the medications prescribed for these disorders present the risk for highly adverse side effects, including addiction.
The good news is that research shows CBD can alleviate symptoms of these and more mental health disorders. For example, a 2020 systematic review reported the following CBD benefits for mental health:
- CBD may treat cannabis withdrawals
- CBD may treat cannabis use disorder (CUD)
- CBD may help treat schizophrenia
- CBD may help treat social anxiety disorder
- CBD may help treat autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- CBD may help treat attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
Additionally, there’s some evidence that CBD is beneficial for treating anxiety, insomnia, and Tourette’s syndrome. Bipolar disorder is one more mental health condition for which CBD is a potentially promising treatment.
CBD for PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. Doctors have traditionally prescribed opiate medications and therapy (usually cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT) to treat PTSD.
However, opioids are highly addictive. Luckily, CBD may be a safe and effective alternative to using opioids for PTSD symptoms. In fact, research also shows that CBD could actually counteract the addictive effects of addictive compounds like opiates.
In the systematic review linked above, the researchers mentioned that CBD could potentially treat PTSD. The review looked at three studies addressing the use of CBD for PTSD symptoms.
In all three studies, CBD significantly reduced PTSD symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and social anxiety.
One case study reported on a 10-year-old child suffering from severe PTSD. After using CBD for five months, the child experienced significant improvements in anxiety and sleep, with no negative side effects.
CBD for Gastrointestinal Issues
We’ve already mentioned how CBD can help alleviate the symptoms of IBS. But that’s not the only gastrointestinal (GI) issue this cannabinoid may be able to treat. Diarrhea, constipation, and bloating all respond well to CBD.
Additionally, CBD may benefit gut health. This is because of its role in appetite and even salivation. CBD’s benefits for inflammation can also help soothe an upset stomach.
CBD for Skin Issues
CBD oil may be the most popular type of CBD product. But it’s not the only one. More and more people are choosing CBD-infused topicals to boost their skin health.
After all, CBD is an antioxidant. And antioxidants fight free radicals, which contribute to ageing and slow down the skin’s ability to heal naturally.
Multiple studies have also found that CBD benefits acne. It can soothe eczema, too. And you can even start using CBD topicals for muscle pain.
Where to Buy CBD Products in South Africa
So, we’ve convinced you that you need to buy CBD in South Africa. But where can you buy it? The places you can buy CBD differ based on whether you’re searching for supplements or prescription CBD.
Where to Buy Prescription CBD in South Africa
To get a Schedule 4 CBD product, you need a doctor’s prescription. But first, you have to have a qualifying condition CBD can treat. With a prescription, you can then purchase CBD from a pharmacist.
Where to Buy CBD Supplements in South Africa
You can buy Schedule 0 CBD products online and in person in South Africa. Petrol stations and designated CBD shops sell legal products you can use. These stores will sell everything from raw CBD isolate to CBD gummies.
Here’s one thing to note when buying CBD in person: steer clear of hemp oil. Products labelled as “hemp oil” don’t actually contain CBD. Instead, these products are closer to cooking oils like olive oil.
But you can also legally access CBD products online. For example, CiiTECH sells three brands of CBD products. We have a wide range of products, covering edibles and gummies to oils and topicals.
CiiTECH Has the CBD Products You Need
So, is CBD legal in South Africa? Yes! You can buy CBD products containing less than 600 mg of CBD or any CBD product as long as you have a prescription from a doctor.
Are you ready to try CBD for the first time? Shop Ciitech’s products now to find the natural remedy you’ve been searching for.