Although indigeous to eastern Asia, cannabis grows widely in Southern Africa, the sativa variety particularly in Botswana, Limpopo, North-West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Western and Eastern Cape. Cannabis is an erect, annual herb that can grow up to four meters high. Stems are slightly hairy, green (can turn brown in maturity) and ribbed. Leaves are palmately compound, with up to 13 leaflets, are strongly serrated, giving the leaves a jagged appearance. Flowers form small yellow/ green clusters.
Cannabis sativa’s primary active compound is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive ingredient responsible for the hallucinogenic effects of the plant – as well as a variety of other cannabinoids (including cannabidiol or CBD) and terpenes. Medically, cannabis has been used to treat a variety of ailments and afflictions, including asthma, bronchitis, headaches, flu, coughs, epilepsy, pain, malaria, glaucoma, nausea from chemotherapy, for improving appetite, AIDS, anorexia nervosa, and for treating muscular spasms in people with multiple sclerosis. The flowers are dried and smoked or ingested through oil extractions recreationally, for its psychoactive, hallucinogenic qualities. Plant material can be used to make fibre, and the seeds can be used to make an oil that is high in essential fatty acids. CBD is especially good for the treatment of epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety and pain.