Dagga / Marijuana
(Cannabis, Dagga, Dope, Zol, Weed, Skyf, Joint, Grass, Boom, Hash, Pot, Nyaope – dagga+heroin mixture)
Marijuana comes from the Indian hemp plant, and the part that contains the “drug” is found primarily in the flowers (commonly called the “buds”) and much less in the seeds, leaves, and stems of the plant. Cannabis plants are easily recognised by their seven leaflets gathered in star-like shape on a stem. They are usually a rich green. It’s these leaves that are dried to make marijuana, which looks like dried grass
Marijuana, when sold, is a mixture of dried out leaves, stems, flowers and seeds of the hemp plant. It is usually green, brown or gray in color. Hashish is tan, brown or black resin that is dried and pressed into bars, sticks or balls. When smoked, both marijuana and hashish give off a distinctive, sweet odor. Dagga belongs to the depressant category of drugs, as it slows down communication between the brain and body.
The big fight: is it good or bad?
The bad part:
There are over 400 chemicals in marijuana and hashish. The chemical that causes intoxication or the “high” in users is called THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol). THC creates the mind-altering effects that classifies marijuana as a “drug.” Intoxication literally means “to poison by taking a toxic substance into your body.” Any substance that intoxicates causes changes in the body and the mind. It can create addiction or dependence, causing a person to want to take that drug even if it harms him or her. Plants can have colors or patterns that camouflage them from predators, or they can contain poisons or toxins that, when eaten, make animals sick or alter their mental capacity, putting them at risk in the wild. THC is the protective mechanism of the marijuana plant.
Some say that because marijuana is a plant, it’s “natural” and so it’s harmless. But it’s not. Hemlock, a poisonous plant, is also “natural,” but it can kill. The other thing to know is that burning dried leaves and buds and inhaling the smoke into your lungs is definitely not “natural” and like smoking cigarettes, can be harmful to your body. Dagga is seen as a forerunner for harder drugs, therefore it is known as the “Gate Way Drug”. Often the first illegal drug people use, marijuana is associated with increased risk of progressing to more powerful and dangerous drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
The good part:
As for the medical uses of marijuana, it contains another chemical called CBD (short for cannibidiol). This is the substance most often associated with creating medical benefits. Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high.(2) Its medical benefits are still being studied, as are methods to breed marijuana plants with high CBD and low THC for medical use.
- Analgesic – Relieves pain.
- Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
- Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.
- Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth through apoptosis.
Fast facts on dagga
- Dagga is the most commonly used illegal drug.
- South Africa’s dagga use is twice the world norm.
- An estimated R3560 million per year is spend on purchasing dagga.
- Dagga is extremely dangerous because it can lead to permanent insanity (dagga psychosis)
- Dagga is not as physically addictive as many other drugs, but it causes severe
- EMOTIONAL DEPENDENCY.
- One dagga cigarette contains 150 cancer causing agents – much more than tobacco.
- Dagga tends to stay in the fatty tissue of the body for long periods of time.
- It takes away the user’s sense of responsibility and ambition.
- One joint smoked three times a week for one year has the same effect as 80 hours of radiation on the human body.
- Frequent dagga use brings less desire for sex and leads to poor performance.
- In the long run it will cause sterility and abnormality in babies.
- Dagga kills brain cells. Dead brain cells can not heal or regenerate itself again.
- Dagga makes you suffer from short term memory loss.
- Myth: Dagga is an African tradition. Truth: It was limited to a once a week social event for elderly men with strict rules. The tradition did not harm the Africans because it always excluded youngsters.
How do people use dagga?
Marijuana can be smoked as a cigarette (joint), but may also be smoked in a dry pipe or a water pipe known as a “bong.” Sometimes users open up cigars and remove the tobacco, replacing it with pot—called a “blunt.” Joints and blunts are sometimes laced with other, more powerful drugs, such as crack cocaine or PCP (phencyclidine, a powerful hallucinogen). Nyaope is a cocktail of dagga, heroin, Anti-retro-viral drugs, rat poison and acid that is mixed and smoked in townships in South Africa.
What is the effect of dagga?
When a person inhales the smoke from a joint or a pipe, he usually feels its effect within minutes.
The immediate sensations:
- increased heart rate
- lessened coordination and balance
- a “dreamy,” unreal state of mind
It peaks within the first 30 minutes and effects usually wear off in two to three hours. They could last longer, depending on how much the user takes, the potency of THC and the presence of other drugs added into the mix.
Short term effects
- Short-term memory problems
- Munchies – they are hungry and will eat anything and everything.
- Severe anxiety, including fear that one is being watched or followed (paranoia)
- Very strange behavior, seeing, hearing or smelling things that aren’t there, not being able to tell imagination from reality (psychosis)
- Loss of sense of personal identity
- Lowered reaction time
- Increased heart rate (risk of heart attack)
- Increased risk of stroke
- Problems with coordination (impairing safe driving or playing sports)
- Sexual problems (for males)
Other forms of dagga use
Hashish – blocks of dried cannabis resin, which can be smoked or eaten.
Hash oil – the oil extracted from hashish, which can be smoked, eaten, and vaporized.
Hashish and hash oil pack a stronger punch than the dried marijuana leaves.
The drug is usually smoked, but it can also be eaten.
When someone suddenly stops using it, include irritability, restlessness, insomnia, anorexia (loss of appetite) and moderate nausea. Furthermore, it is known that the psychological dependence that develops over the long run is as strong as the physical dependence on the substance, and that it brings about the same cravings.
For a long time it was suggested that these side effects disappear as soon as dagga is not in a person’s system anymore or has been “worked out”. The reality, in actual fact, is that the substance has a very long “half-life”. This means that it takes quite a while for the substance to have its effect and be eliminated from the body – up to 30 days.
Points to consider when making the change is:
- How do you deal with stress?
- Who are your friends?
- How do you spend your free time?
- How do you think about yourself?
For a start:
- Think about your change.
- Keep track of your drug use.
- List the pros and cons of quitting.
- Consider what is important to you – your partner, your kids, your career.
- Talk to someone you trust about quitting.
- List things that are preventing you from changing.
Questions to consider:
- Do you feel guilty for your behaviour?
- Do you make promises to stop drug use?
- Do you find yourself trying to justify the way you feel and act?
- Have you given up responsibility for your addiction?
- Do you feel alone, rejected, fearful, angry, guilty or exhausted?
- Did you ever lose time from work or school due to your addiction?
- Do you ever use alone?
- Do you avoid people or places that do not approve of you using drugs?
- Have you ever tried to stop or control your using?
- Have you ever lied about what or how much you use?
MOBIEG Online Helpline:
Talk to us, we can help! You can chat to an on-line facilitator on the LIVE CHAT – it is anonymous.
You can join our MOBIEG Addiction Support Group every Wednesday evening from 20h00-21h30.
You can do self -test quiz on addiction: Substance Abuse Quiz
National Helpline: 083 900 69 62
You can book counselling sessions for Addiction with the following therapists:
Drug Facts: Marijuana
National Institute on Drug Abuse.