Stop. Watch. Listen

The Cannabis Expo is coming to Pretoria this festive season

Now's your chance to learn about dagga growth and use from medical health professionals, agriculturalists and lifestyle brands, writes Moroetsana Serame

25 November 2018 - 00:00 By Moroetsana Serame

WHAT: The Cannabis Expo.
WHEN: December 13 to 16 2018.
WHERE: Time Square in Menlyn, Pretoria.
WHY: Learn about cannabis growth and use.
'Sluggish, lazy, stupid and unconcerned, that's all marijuana does to you." This is the well-known recording of Frank Ocean's mother, Katonya Breaux, on his second studio album, Blonde.
Dagga has always been laced with these negative connotations and they've continued to linger in the air even after the advent of the Constitutional Court ruling decriminalising private use of the herb.
But, as the Cannabis Expo is coming to SA this festive season, we have to ask: now that growing dagga has been given the green light, shouldn't we be putting our green fingers to good use?
The expo is a platform for local and international medical health professionals, agriculturalists and lifestyle brands to engage with experts and the public. "The purpose of the expo is not to promote getting high but to promote the cannabis industry as a whole," says Silas Howarth, co-founder of the expo.
It will be a rare opportunity for information and dagga-related products to be shared across the board. Experts will explain the legalities of using the plant and different growing techniques. The items on sale are strictly legal and no recreational dagga will be sold. Attendees will also not be permitted to smoke dagga as it is a public exhibition and not a private space.
To prepare myself for the festival I went on a mission to enlighten myself about growing dagga. This is what I learnt:
It is neither difficult nor expensive to grow dagga and it can be a very rewarding experience. Most people prefer dagga without pesticides and fungicides, so cultivating your own dagga gives you the peace of mind of knowing exactly what chemicals (if any) were used.
"The process of growing the plant itself has given me a sense of reward, so it's not just about holding the end product in my hand. Time invested into anything you love seems to open up avenues you were never expecting," said one grower.
He is growing a Fruitopian strain. It has a tropical aroma that is unique and is a mid-level THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This makes the high tolerable and assists him with his anxiety.
For beginners, it's suggested that you start out cultivating a strain that has low levels of THC and a higher level of CBD (cannabidiol), which is mostly for medicinal use and helps the body and mind relax. Dagga can also assist with stopping physical pain, nausea, depression and loss of appetite.
Dagga is quite a flexible plant. But it is susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Heavy rains and winds can cause physical damage to the plant and excessive moisture can cause the plant to grow mould or mildew.
"Weed is pretty resilient as long as it has enough water and sunshine," explained an environmental enthusiast.
Another grower, who is tending an outdoor strain of dagga, said the plant needs watering every three days and should be exposed to as much sunlight as possible.
"But you should bring it indoors at night," she said. Soaking the seeds in water before planting them can assist with the germination process, or you can plant seedlings instead of seeds.
She said sandy soil is the best type of soil to use as it is well-drained and warm and is rich in organic matter. Heavy clay drains slowly and does not oxygenate as well.
If you're using pots for your potplant, it's recommended that you use fertiliser as opposed to compost manure. Fish waste is also an interesting way to help fertilise the soil. Organic fertilisers, as opposed to industrial ones, should be used.
Where the "farming" of the dagga is concerned, it is ideal to have removed male plants as they are full of seeds, which is not what most growers are after. The female plants produce buds that are rich in psychoactive compound. According to the outdoor grower, you should start trimming a month after the plants have started budding.
And remember, there is some truth in Breaux's sentiments, along the lines of "too much of anything is a bad thing". Dagga, like all other novelties in life, should be enjoyed responsibly.

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