Also known as

marijuana, zol, skyf, joint, weed, grass, shit, pot, boom, ganja, dope, hash, smoke, hemp, green gold, majat (a low grade dagga), poison, peperskyf, swazi gold, malawi gold, mabange, insangu, imya, lebake, splif, transkei colly, durban poison




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 [1].

Leaves of Leonotis leonurus, a plant found in South Africa, where it is smoked like tobacco with mild sedative effect; a term mistakenly applied to Indian hemp, Cannabis sativa [2].

What does it look like?

Dagga looks a bit like the tobacco one can buy in shops. It consists of dry leaves of the cannabis sativa plant. The female plant contains seeds, which can be planted, but which are usually removed from the mixture before smoking it. The male plant does not contain seeds. The dried leaves are brown or dark green in colour and looks a bit like mixed herbs one buys in the supermarket [3].

Street price

The cost of dagga varies from area to area, but is generally inexpensive. It is cheap, but freely available [3].

What are the different forms?

  • 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 [1].
    • Price - approximately R60 - R90 - depending on the weight and the quality,
    • Weight - 650g - 1kg [1].
  • compressed dagga - 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 [1].
  • Hashish - 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 [1].
    • Price - R5 per gram [1].

How long do its effects last?

When dagga is smoked the effect thereof will be felt within minutes and reaches its peak after about three minutes. Dagga will hold the effect on the body for a period of two to three hours. The stronger the dose of Dagga that is taken the longer and more intense the so-called 'Trip' will be [1].


There are sixty-one 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 [1].


It takes approximately thirty days for the body to rid itself of the THC of one Dagga cigarette. In certain parts of the body it can take up to six months [1].

Signs of usage

  • bloodshot eyes,
  • sleepy eyes,
  • unnatural thirst or hunger,
  • uncontrollable moods / mood swings,
  • talkative or giggles,
  • bad decision-making,
  • stains on hands [1].

Physical signs

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 were folded,
  • rasta colours (red, green and yellow),
  • empty matchboxes,
  • brown paper - packaging of "sticks",
  • untidy lifestyle [1].

Most of the abovementioned substances can be found in dustbins [1].


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

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 [1].


  • brain damage,
  • amnesia,
  • sterility,
  • emphysema / lung diseases,
  • emotional and spiritual problems,
  • lowered libido,
  • weakened liver functions,
  • overall deterioration in health [1].


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 [1].