Cape Town – Cape Town’s first ever Cannabis Expo opened its doors to thousands of marijuana enthusiasts and entrepreneurs this week.
It was packed with business owners capitalising on the burgeoning cannabis industry in South Africa, selling items such as pot home-growing kits, cannabis-infused beverages, smoking accessories and cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
It also featured many enthusiasts making claims about the ability of cannabis to cure everything from high blood pressure to cancer.
Gerhard Naude, chief executive of the Expo’s main sponsor, Go Life International, said there was a massive market for medical cannabis.
“This is just one of the most amazing products, cannabis for medicinal use,” Naude said. “On the medicinal side I know that the demand is enormous.”
Absolutely no marijuana was present at the expo, because it is still illegal for public consumption and sale.
However, there was plenty of the compound CBD, which can be extracted from hemp. It is a member of the cannabis family that is legal for commercial use because it has no psychoactive effects.
Former professional surfer Roxy Louw shared the story of how cannabis changed her life.
She first first became aware of cannabis 10 years ago, after she was cast in the movie Blue Crush 2.
“I was 21 and chasing the dream. I was in the movies, always busy. I went to the doctor because I was struggling to sleep and struggling with anxiety and depression.”
The doctor prescribed medication, but it didn’t offer the relief Louw was looking for. Years later, her search ended thanks to the combination of yoga and cannabis.
Louw said using cannabis had helped her recover enough to no longer need her psychiatric medication.
“It’s a powerful tool that I used to wean off medication. I’m now completely med-free.”
Louw has started a business hosting retreats that combine cannabis and yoga, through which she hopes to help other people deal with the issues she had.
“Cannayoga brings a heightened awareness to the body and aids with depression and pain management,” she says. “We host cannabis yoga retreats, where we get educated on cannabis and what strains to use for particular illnesses.”
If you’re curious to experience it for yourself, the next cannabis yoga retreat is from June 7 to 9 in Swellendam.
Another cannabis proponent is Mike Renda, also known as “Dr Weed” on Instagram. Renda works with both CBD and THC, which has psychoactive effects.
“I kill cancer with high THC,” Renda said. “I’ve been doing treatments over four years now.”
However, practitioners can’t make any medical claims for weed because cannabis is not a registered treatment with the Medicines Control Council.
Renda said he works under the Traditional and Alternative Medicines Act, which gives him the power to distribute cannabis for medicinal purposes.
“I’m allowed to prescribe you cannabis,” he said. “There’s a big difference between recreational and medicinal. I do tinctures with CBD and THC. THC is the cancer killer.”
The Cannabis Expo is on Saturday and Sunday at GrandWest. Tickets are R200 at the door.