Part four of our “What’s in a Name” series is here, and we’re going back to our roots (may they always be flourishing and free from rot!). Cannabis might have an extensive timeline in North America, but it certainly didn’t originate here nor do we have a monopoly on interesting history. Let’s take a peek at cannabis in other countries around the world, guided by the names for the plant in their own languages.
Chanvre – France
Chanvre is French for “hemp”. Currently, in France, cannabis is not approved for recreational use, though derivatives can be used for medicinal use in some treatment-resistant cases. Even this is a relatively new allowance, however, beginning in 2013. Prior to that time France, who signed the Geneva Convention on drugs in 1925, had prohibited medical cannabis since 1953.
Changes may be on the horizon, however. The hefty fines and possibility of jail time may be eased in the near future now that a new president is in place. Word is, Macron’s government is pondering the economic benefits of legalization.
Even though, like many places in North America, actual persecution for personal cannabis use is fairly rare, these changes could legitimize the estimated 1.2 million chanvre users in the country.
Dagga – South Africa
Dagga, or “weed”, is not legal for use of any kind in South Africa, unfortunately. The plant was initially banned (with the exception of some medicinal use) in 1922, and has come up in numerous legal discussions over the years. Today, cannabis enjoys “limited decriminalization”, which slackened a law that stated anyone possessing more than 115 grams of cannabis (a mere 4 ounces) must be trafficking the substance.
The term “dagga” comes from “dacha” in the Khoikhoi dialect (a native southern African group), which was adopted by early settlers to the area.
Hanf – Germany
As of 2017, Germany – a socially forward-thinking nation on a number of topics, such as education – has begun discussing the full legalization of “hanf”, or hemp. Medical marijuana was legalized early that year, but recreational smoking is still restricted. Only those suffering from conditions like MS, cancer, or severe chronic pain are eligible.
Various parties (like the Green party, surprise, surprise) are proposing recreational legalization, realizing, like most other countries that have taken the plunge, the money to be made off the legal sale and taxation of this healing plant. Decriminalization does exist to varying degrees across the regions, with anywhere from 3 to 15 grams of hanf being deemed safe to possess.
Mbanje – Zimbabwe
In mid-2017, news reports stated Zimbabwe officials were considering the legalization of medical cannabis production, following inquiries from several existing investors about the development of growing operations in the country’s Special Economic Zones, which are currently being set up throughout the region.
Beyond these discussions, however, mbanje or marijuana is illegal both to possess and cultivate, with jail time being a very plausible punishment.
Potiguaya – Spain
You might have already guessed that “Potiguaya”, a Spanish term for cannabis, is the namesake of one of North America’s pet names for the plant, “pot”. Of course, Spanish is spoken in many countries around the world, but for sake of time and clarity, we’ll just take a peek at cannabis laws in Spain itself!
In this country on the Iberian Peninsula, cannabis is illegal, with punishments for sale or import being subject to imprisonment. Purchasing cannabis, however, as well as possessing or using it, is considered a misdemeanor and may result in a fine and confiscation of your stash. I got a bit of a chuckle out of the legal terminology for growing cannabis plants in a visible location: this “serious administrative offence” can result in a fine of up to 30,000 Euros (about $37,000).
Go ahead and use this info at your next trivia night. We’re pretty sure your friends will be impressed when you can answer questions like “what is the South African name for hemp?”.
And whatever you call it, don’t forget to check out our feminized seeds. We’ve got a great selection that’s always growing!