It’s the most widely used illegal drug in the world, but does cannabis deserve its reputation as being one of the safest?
Not if you take a look at South Africa, one of the UK’s biggest providers of high-strength cannabis, where a potent strain of the plant dubbed ‘swazi gold’ is wrecking havoc on its young population.
As revealed in BBC’s Stacey Dooley Investigates, which aired last night, poverty-stricken grandmothers are growing it, drug mules are risking their lives to smuggle it out of the country, and what stays behind is ruining the lives of South Africa’s drug-addled teens.
Swazi gold is grown in the tiny South African sovereign state of Swaziland, where the climate and nutrient-rich soil is perfect for growing marijuana.
Farmers – many of them ‘Grannies’ whose children have died and who are now in charge of providing for their grandchildren – have developed the potent strain through cross-pollination, and can now yield double the crop they once could annually.
The result is cannabis which boasts a staggeringly high concentration of THC, the psychoactive agent which produces the high, which finds its way either to the streets of the UK, or the streets of Johannesburg and beyond.