CBD Oil in front of the cannabis sativa plant

History of CBD in South Africa | The Past and The Present

Let me guess: you’re reading this because you’re an avid CBD user, and you’re curious about how CBD got to South Africa in the first place. Maybe you’re new to the world of cannabis and CBD and want to know a little bit more about it. Either way, this post will give you a comprehensive overview of CBD in South Africa.

Cannabis and CBD products have been increasing in popularity in South Africa over the last few years. From recreational users to pharmaceuticals and the medical industry, CBD is quickly gaining traction in the South African climate. With allegedly excellent physical and mental health benefits, like possibly easing your anxiety and helping with insomnia, CBD’s popularity comes as no surprise.

However, with increasing popularity comes misinformation. So, it’s essential to know where CBD comes from and how we got to this point. This post will walk you through CBD history in South Africa, exploring its origins, medicinal and recreational use over the years, and more.

CBD Background | The Ins and Outs of CBD

When looking to understand the history of CBD, it is important to first understand what it is. This section will focus on some key questions, like: What is CBD? What is the difference between CBD and THC? Let’s take a look at these questions, and more, so we can fully understand the history.

What Is CBD?

Before discovering the history of cannabidiol, let’s first talk about what exactly CBD is. CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis sativa plant. CBD lacks the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) component responsible for producing a high.

CBD also works with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors to assist in mood and sleep regulatory functions, thus resulting in a calming and relaxing effect. Common uses for CBD include treatment for various medical conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, muscle pain, arthritis, and even epilepsy.

There are three variants of CBD: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate. Full-spectrum CBD contains all hemp properties, including THC. Broad-spectrum CBD contains all hemp cannabinoid properties except for THC. Finally, CBD isolate is the purest form, as it is totally isolated from other cannabinoid properties and components.

For a more detailed and in-depth understanding, check out this post on what CBD is and the benefits it has to offer.

Man using CBD oil

CBD vs THC | Medicinal vs Recreational Use

Cannabis is often used for two reasons: medicinal or recreational purposes. You might be wondering: “What is the difference?” Well, for starters, the recreational use of cannabis is more closely associated with higher levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.

THC is similar to CBD in that they both react to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. However, the effect of THC is much stronger. Hence, it is termed “psychoactive,” as it is responsible for producing strong mind-altering effects.

CBD, on the other hand, is an altered version of cannabis and is more closely associated with medicinal use. This cannabis component is commonly mixed in oils, lotions, or even edibles to create a sense of calm and relaxation, helping to soothe the user of their ailment or illness. Due to the non-psychoactive nature of CBD, it is popular among medical practises that have spanned decades.

Despite the efficacy that CBD has shown in medical treatment, the journey to its legalisation in South Africa has been long. So, next, let us discuss the origins and evolution of cannabis and CBD in South Africa.

CBD/Cannabidiol element symbol with cannabis sativa plant

Origins of Cannabis and CBD in South Africa

So now that you know more about the ins and outs of CBD, we can get into its history in South Africa, starting with its origins and moving through to the current state of CBD usage. So, buckle in while you’re taken through the decades.

Early History of Cannabis

To understand the full history of CBD, we must first look at the origins of the plant that it comes from, Cannabis sativa: how did it get here in the first place? The cannabis plant is said to have first made an appearance in South Africa in the early 1600s. Local trade and cultivation of cannabis were prohibited by the Dutch in 1680, but this was overturned by 1700.

Following this, between 1870 and 1908, cannabis was banned in several South African colonies. This was due to an array of misconceptions surrounding its consumption. Eventually, cannabis was no longer prohibited, given the prevalence of the plant on the continent. However, the panic and misconceptions around cannabis continued for many more years until 1922, when it was once again banned from use.

Over the decades, cannabis was still criminalised and prohibited throughout South Africa. The real turning point came in the 2000s, when supporters of the use of cannabis began to advocate for its legalisation. That then brings us to more recent years.

Growing cannabis sativa plant

A Turning Point: The Legalization of CBD Products

For decades, the use of CBD has been popular throughout the world, with claims being made about its medicinal efficacy. In the early years prior to 2018, the sale, distribution, and use of CBD products weren’t permitted, and as a result, research around CBD usage was delayed. Therefore, very little evidence existed at the time to support the claims of CBD’s usefulness.

However, following an announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that CBD was, in fact, not harmful or detrimental to humans, things began to take a turn. In 2018, the South African government began to decriminalise the personal use of cannabis. Following this, in 2019, CBD products were legalised for non-prescription sale and distribution up to a certain dosage.

This led to full-scale research studies by pharmaceutical companies and academics to test the therapeutic and medicinal claims of CBD. These studies found that CBD could be helpful for epilepsy, depression, and anxiety, as well as forms of pain and inflammation. As research began to support many theories surrounding CBD, its popularity gained even more traction.

CBD’s purported usefulness has been widespread and is said to improve the quality of life for many after its legalisation. This includes those suffering from mental illnesses or struggling to get some shut-eye with their insomnia.

Woman sleeping

The popularity of and customer interest in CBD products have evolved greatly since then, as many South African companies and suppliers hop on the new trend. Since the legalisation, South Africa has seen an influx in CBD product production and companies, as well as an increased presence on social media advertising the amazing health and wellness benefits.

While CBD is relatively new in the South African marketplace, there is no doubt that the industry is booming and will continue to grow over the next few years.

Woman using CBD oil

History of CBD Oil | How Has CBD Been Used?

CBD oil’s history can be looked at from many avenues, but given CBD’s non-psychoactive nature, this will be looked at mainly from a medical perspective. CBD’s applications have evolved significantly over the years. From initially being used for simple pain management to now possibly assisting with complex medical conditions like epilepsy or even cancer.

Let us take a look at the medicinal purposes of CBD and how these uses have evolved over the years. Initially, between the 1700s and 1800s, CBD was notably used to help with pain relief and management, particularly among pregnant and menstruating women. CBD oils in particular, were reported to be effective in reducing the pain quite significantly.

Then, throughout the next few years, CBD and cannabis would continue to be used for pain management but also as an alternative to alcohol. However, in 1910, the use of CBD and cannabis began to be criminalised by world leaders and was used to a lesser extent. Public perceptions of CBD fluctuated over the next few years. However, they were still used by some for pain and medical treatments, as would be discovered over the years.

By September 2018, the popularity of CBD usage for epilepsy medication became apparent, as recognised by the WHO. Finally, by May 2019, CBD products were legalised for usage in South Africa and have various uses, such as for anxiety, muscle cramps, depression, insomnia, epilepsy, and more.

Cannabuddy product, CBD sleep oil

Current State of CBD in South Africa

Local green thumbs in South Africa, particularly in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, have continued to grow local cannabis and marijuana variants. Our climate is perfect for it – and the industry is booming. While currently, according to South African law, cannabis is not allowed to be sold or distributed, though personal and recreational growth and use are still allowed.

Cannabis sativa growing indoors

However, since CBD contains less than 0.2% of the psychoactive ingredient, THC, this law doesn’t apply. Meaning that all CBD and CBD oil products are free to sell and buy as you wish.

As it stands, popular uses for CBD include edible, sublingual, inhalable, and topical products. Edibles include gummies, sweets, capsules, and liquids. Sublingual products include oils that are absorbed from underneath the tongue. Vapors are also available as an inhalable option. Finally, topical products, such as oils, creams, lotions, or ointments, are to be used directly on the skin.

History of CBD | Final Thoughts

It’s been a long and complicated journey since the introduction of CBD in the country. After many years of advocacy for CBD, we can now enjoy the purportedly great health and wellness benefits that CBD has to offer. Whether you’re in need of an edible or a lotion — the CBD industry in South Africa will have you covered!

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