Dagga or Cannabis is well known in South Africa. It is surrounded by various myths, of which the following is mentioned often:

"Dagga is derived from the earth and is therefore a natural product"

"My child can rather use Dagga than stronger drugs"

Dagga however, is extremely dangerous. It hampers the physical development of a child and can lead to psychological defects. The greatest danger of Dagga is that it is a forerunner for harder drugs, therefore it is known as the "Gate Way Drug".

It has been proven time and again (both during interviews and court cases) that nearly every drug offender started by experimenting with Dagga.


Dagga is a green plant-like substance derived from the Dagga plant. The Dagga plant can be found in the form of a bush and the size is dependent on various factors, for instance the temperature in which it grows, the rainfall, the nutrients in the soil in which it grows and some of the inherited genes in the seeds that are being used during the planting process. There is a wide variety in sizes of the Dagga plant. A characteristic of the Dagga plant is the leaf that can be found in the form of a hand and that usually consists of an uneven number of leaves, usually five, seven, nine or eleven leaves, situated on the stem.

The botanical name for Dagga is Cannabis Sativa.

Dagga / Cannabis falls in three (3) categories - Indicia, Ruderalia and Sativa

There are sixty-one (61) cannabinols that are synthesised by the plant. The active ingredient of the plant, namely Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is responsible for most of the outstanding characteristics of the psychoactive effects of the plant. THC is a very complex substance and is slowly metabolised by the body. It takes approximately thirty (30) days for the body to rid itself of the THC of one (1) Dagga cigarette. In certain parts of the body it can take up to six (6) months.

  • Marijuana
  • Zol
  • Skyf
  • Joint
  • Weed
  • Grass
  • Shit
  • Pot
  • Boom
  • Ganja
  • Dope
  • Hash
  • Smoke
  • Hemp
  • Green Gold


Dagga is primarily smoked and is usually mixed in with tobacco because Dagga doesn't burn easily on its own. The tabacco of a cigarette would be removed and would then be mixed in with Dagga (pips and stems are removed) and would be placed back into the cigarette or Rizzla (handmade cigarette).

A very popular method of smoking Dagga is in the so-called "Bottle Neck" or Pipe that is broken off or is cut from the bottle by means of a shoelace. This pipe is then filled with Dagga and smoked. Usually where the "Bottle Neck" is involved, Mandrax will also play a role. The abuser will fold a piece of paper, also known as a "Diamond" which will be put into the one end of the bottle and utilized as a filter. The smoking of a Dagga cigarette is known as "Slow Boat".

Dagga can also be mixed with cake flour from which Dagga cakes are made which can be eaten, and can also be used in the form of a tea for the so-called medicinal use.

According to the National Narcotics Control Board there is no medicinal use for Dagga recognized in any country and there is no scientific evidence that the Dagga plant as such has any medicinal purposes that have not been substituted by safer drugs.

Dagga is not sold at street level in the form of a plant, but is packed in various ways in which it then is being sold.


Areas marked in red indicate dagga growing areas

The South African climate is very favourable for the growth of Dagga. The plants are found in Dagga plantations and can grow up to 3m high and 15cm in diameter. The Dagga plant is then chopped off and dried in the sun. .

The total eradication of Dagga is hampered because of the fact that Dagga is planted in areas that are inaccessible, such as cliffs and high mountains. In Swaziland it is only possible to get to these plantations by means of the use of helicopters. This Dagga that is harvested, is physically carried out by the smugglers to assembly points from where it is then taken across the border by other means.

In Lesotho however, the Dagga plantations can be reached by 4 x 4 vehicles and motorbikes. Still, 99% of these Dagga gets transported out of the area by means of pack animals such as donkeys.

In Malawi Dagga is planted kilometres from the roadside in the middle of mealie fields, sugar plantations and densely bushed areas, which makes the monitoring and destroying thereof very difficult. There it is found that the Dagga is physically carried by the smugglers to the assembly points.

In the Eastern Cape (former Transkei and Ciskei) and Kwazulu Natal it is a traditional source of income to farm Dagga. The Eastern Cape is one of the largest Dagga producing areas in South Africa. This can be verified by the total number of confiscations done by the South African Police Service.

Shots are regularly fired at policemen during Dagga destroying operations, because Dagga is known as "Green Gold" and is the main source of income for thousands of people in these areas.

The first phase of organized Dagga smuggling takes place by means of the big scale transport of bags of Dagga or compressed Dagga blocks. These bags of Dagga are transported by trucks to the various distribution points in the country. Various cases were found where these bags were covered with human faeces to disguise the strong smell thereof during transport.

This known method of smuggling is run by organized drug syndicates and corrupt customs officers and police officers are used to promote the process.
PRICE : R800 - R1 600 - depending on the availability and the quality
WEIGHT : ħ8 - 14kg

Dagga is taken from the bags and repackaged in what is known as an "Arm". The name "Arm" is derived from the packaging method. Dagga is rolled up in newspaper and brown paper in the length and thickness of a man's forearm. It has been found that the length and thickness of an "Arm" vary in certain smuggle areas.
PRICE : ħR60 - R90 - depending on the weight and the quality
WEIGHT : 650g - 1kg

General price of R1 per one gram is applicable
Bank bags
Durban Poisons / Sticks
Malawi Cobs
For more pictures go to the Photo Library


Dagga is compressed in 1kg blocks in order to make packaging and smuggling easier. Compressed Dagga is usually destined for the European and North American markets, where there is a great demand for Dagga from Southern Africa. The value of 1kg compressed Dagga overseas is approximately R1 000.


Dagga can also be obtained in the form of Hashish. Hashish is a thick tar-like substance and looks like sticky toffee that has melted. Hashish is basically the resin of the Dagga plant that is extracted when the plant is compressed when it is wet. This resin is then dried and marketed.

A piece of this resin is broken off and is usually smoked in what is known as a "Hubbly Bubbly". Hashish is more concentrated than Dagga and there are users that claim that it is 30% stronger than Dagga.

PRICE : R5 per gram


According to users, the effects of Dagga will vary from person to person.

Dagga is a light depressant and when it is smoked the effect thereof will be felt within minutes and reaches its peak after about three (3) minutes. Dagga will hold the effect on the body for a period of two (2) to three (3) hours. The stronger the dose of Dagga that is taken the longer and more intense the so-called "Trip" will be. Dagga has the effect to speed up the pulse rate of an individual and the blood pressure drop drastically. It also causes a dry mouth and in certain cases it causes hallucinations. A serious thirst, an increase in appetite especially for something sweet (which is called "Munchies"), aggression, light headedness and forgetfulness in certain users are caused, especially when it is used together with the consumption of alcohol. There are cases of synaesthesia reported, where music is seen and colours heard.


  • Brain damage
  • Amnesia
  • Sterility
  • Emphysema / Lung deceases
  • Emotional and Spiritual problems
  • Lowered Libido
  • Weakened Liver functions
  • Overall deterioration in health

Dagga has a negative effect on the short-term memory and users thereof become anxious, which leads to paranoia. The long-term use of Dagga can lead to lung cancer and various sources have been quoted to state that Dagga is more damaging to the lungs than normal cigarette smoke. It has a definite effect on the development of the body and can harm unborn babies. The metabolites of Dagga stay in the lungs for a very long time and also affect the immune system.

The users of Dagga are usually very apathetic and their performance at work and at school will deteriorate drastically. Dagga is a dependence forming substance and causes the tolerance effect where people who smoke Dagga have to increase their use of this drug to create the same effect (High).

It was also found that with certain individuals Dagga has a stimulating effect. As an example: in the beginning of the Century, the Chamber of Mines instituted more breaks during working hours, in order to give the opportunity to the workers to smoke Dagga in order to improve their work performance.

There are certain cases where individuals, especially juveniles, hallucinate after using Dagga.


  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sleepy eyes
  • Unnatural thirst or hunger
  • Uncontrollable moods / mood swings
  • Talkative or Giggles
  • Bad decision-making
  • Stains on hands


The following physical signs can be an indication that an individual or individuals are using Dagga :

  • Dagga seeds or pips lying around
  • Dagga rests or dust found in pockets of clothing
  • Broken bottles or bottle necks
  • Rizzla machines and papers
  • Unknown odours in home
  • Incense burnt in rooms
  • Eye drops or Lipice that is used extensively
  • Empty bank bags
  • Lotto or Tab tickets that was folded
  • Rasta colours (red, green and yellow)
  • Empty matchboxes
  • Brown paper - packaging of "Sticks"
  • Untidy lifestyle

Most of the abovementioned substances can be found in dustbins


Dagga is not originally derived from Africa. Cannabis Sativa, the gene name for Dagga, originated in the Far East, from countries such as China and Thailand. In the Indian subcontinent legends and traditions have it that Dagga was used as a method to enhance meditation and concentration. In certain parts of India Dagga, where it is known as "Bhang", is prepared in the form of a syrup that is used during spiritual occasions and is prescribed by certain religions as compulsory.

Ganja is also seen in India as a form of prestige and was prominent during certain Indian parties. In South India it was a habit to distribute Ganja amongst guests at weddings to show the host's respect toward his guests.

Certain African tribes have over the years made excessive use of Cannabis. In Tanzania this drug found its way into a diet in the southern highlands where Cannabis seeds and leafs were used as a spice during the preparation of certain vegetable dishes. Traditional doctors in Tanzania made extracts of the Cannabis plant that was then used to cure earache. Cannabis entered South Africa via Mozambique. For years Dagga was supplied to black mine workers to enhance their work performance. It was also known that there were certain secret movements where people used Dagga in vast quantities.

South Africa is traditionally one of the largest Dagga producing countries in the world. Dagga is primarily cultivated in Kwazulu Natal, the Eastern Cape (especially the former Transkei), Swaziland and Lesotho. This Dagga has for years been exported to America and Europe and is then exchanged for more serious drugs such as LSD and Ecstasy. In 1928 the cultivating and use of Dagga was prohibited (banned) in South Africa.

Read more about the following drugs...
Dagga | Mandrax | LSD | XTC | Cocaine | Heroin | Rohypnol | Welcanol | Pethadine

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