We were lucky enough to have a little chat with the legendary Zol Barbie, one of the pioneers in the South African cannabis industry. She has been involved from the start and watched the budding industry grow into what it is today.
So we caught up for an exclusive interview to find out a little more about who Zol Barbie is.
How did you get the name “Zol Barbie”?
About ten years ago I was randomly strip-searched outside a club in Sandton. The police argued that they had smelled weed coming from the parking lot where I was standing, but I obviously had nothing to do with that.
The female police officer pulled three pre-rolled joints out of my bra, took one look at my sparkly pink outfit and said, “Kyk nou vir klein Zol Barbie, hierso”.
It was obviously meant as an insult, but I quite liked the zef South African-ness of the title, so I kept it.
Take us through your daily smoke routine.
Every day begins with a joint and a cup of tea with my husband (after taking our child to school).
There is no real ‘smoking routine’ after that; it’s no secret that we smoke a lot of cannabis during the day. We don’t count. We work hard and get a lot done, and the joints are always burning. I don’t really smoke bongs. In the evenings we dab, because we’re up to our asses in rosin and have no choice.
At what age did you start smoking weed?
I first tried cannabis when I was 14 years old. By the time I was 16 years old I was smoking every single day. I am now 33 years old.
Even though this is how it happened for me, I do not condone youngsters under the age of 21 years smoking cannabis. Let your brain develop, please.
What’s your favourite activity to do while stoned?
I don’t get ‘stoned’, I get ‘activated’!
I don’t prefer the term ‘stoned’ or ‘stoner’. It has a stigma attached to it which I’ve spent my entire life trying to avoid. The word ‘stoner’ has connotations with which I don’t identify. Personally, I associate that word with tie-dyed clothed, unmotivated, late-sleeping adults who still live on their parents’ couch.
I much prefer to consider myself a cannabis user. I am a responsible and hard-working mother with a university degree who pays her taxes, and keeps a clean home and garden. I am a productive, contributing member of society. I am a law-abiding citizen. I do not touch alcohol or cigarettes – ever. I also happen to use cannabis every day.
Any activity is more enjoyable when you’re activated. It’s not worth doing anything at all if your intention isn’t clearly set, with a calm mind and a happy heart. Cannabis can assist with focus, muscle activation and muscle recovery; thus making it an excellent precursor to any physical activity ranging from housework to yoga.
What’s your favourite strain?
I appreciate cannabis is all its glory. Reviewing strains is something that my husband and I have been doing for years, and it has encouraged me to pay even more attention to our smoke. Every strain has its place and time. Some strains can send me into an anxious overdrive, while some put me to sleep. We have learnt to use them all to our advantage.
I can, however, say that the most interesting bud I’ve ever smoked was from a strain called ‘White Trash’ – bred and grown by AmaDeadly Seeds. It quite literally smelled and tasted of a pungent old trash can, and it put me squarely on my ass.
How long has your brand, Just Cannabis, been running and what sparked the idea to start it?
I appeared as a guest on The Dagga Couple’s #HotBoxShow last year. We were discussing all of the cool stuff we had seen and experienced at the Pretoria cannabis expo.
At some point during the show, I said that I desperately wanted to grow my own cannabis, but was afraid of failing. Growing cannabis is time-consuming, and it can be costly. I was overwhelmed with all the different information available on the Internet, and whenever I would ask the experienced growers around me for advice there was always this definite tendency of ‘secret keeping’. Besides the unwillingness to share their knowledge and advice, the information was also highly contradictory from person to person.
I went on to say that if someone wanted to make a lot of money they should create some type of “grow kit for dummies”. Something simple that takes the alleged rocket science out of growing cannabis.
The following week G-man approached me in Cape Town. He told me that he had seen the show the week before, and wanted to give me some of his special soil mix to grow in. He explained to me that I would only need to use tap water and nothing else… and naturally, I did not believe him.
I decided to put this soil mix to the test. I bought ten bags and handed them out to friends to experiment with. The news of the soil spread like wildfire, and soon we realized that we had to package and brand it.
The name JUST CANNABIS was born out of our love and loyalty towards the plant; and dismisses all of the negativity that tends to gravitate towards it. No competition, no jealousy, no bragging, no drama, no community gossip, no bullshit…. Just Cannabis. We were warned by all of the ‘industry experts’ to avoid using the ‘c word’ in our branding, but we had more vision than that.
It turns out that the name was genius; it is exactly why all the mainstream retailers are interested in stocking it. Besides that, we don’t believe in a closet-case attitude towards this plant. We serve her proudly.
Just Cannabis has officially been running for eight months now. Our primary goal is to create an opportunity for everyone to grow his or her own quality, organic cannabis without breaking the bank or their brains. Our vision is to see everyone growing their own recreational and medicinal cannabis, and to give them all of the information and guidance the might need along the way. NO MORE secret keeping! No more over-complicating things. Growing decent cannabis is far easier than the average grower would like you to think. It’s amazing how people can discredit Mother Nature these days; even though she was growing cannabis eons before we were.
Where do you see the South African cannabis industry in 5 years?
South Africa is the most corrupt country on the planet, so it’s really difficult to predict what is lying ahead for the cannabis industry. I think if we look to Canada we might have a pretty good idea.
To be perfectly honest, though, I am only really interested in the recreational side of things. What I would like to see is minimal regulation in the recreational sector. This is not plutonium; for decades we’ve been regulating what we smoke all by ourselves. I don’t want limits on how much I can grow or possess; that is not freedom.
What’s your view on SA focusing on cannabis export and not internal market development?
Naturally, I find it concerning. I suspect that very few pockets will benefit from these arrangements. It saddens me that we are not rising to this opportunity to give South Africa the economic boost it so desperately needs by focusing on internal market development. I do, however, think it’s terribly exciting that there are cannabis farms in South Africa during my lifetime – period.
Furthermore, I don’t think that any of the issues pertaining to “who gets the money” should be addressed until our brothers and sisters currently imprisoned for cannabis use have been freed. I want retribution for the countless people whose lives have been ruined by their incarceration for having anything to do with this plant. We need to start with the human aspects of the damage caused by senseless prohibition all these years. A great way to achieve this would be to enforce a compulsory police training session on how to handle (or not handle) cannabis arrests at present. The police need to BACK OFF.
If you had a hot-tub time machine and could give your younger self some stoner related wisdom, what would it be?
Dear Zol Barbie (junior)
Quit spending your time building other people’s brands, and start building your own empire. Realize your worth.
Dream BIG; so big that you feel scared.
Floss. Every day.
Kindest regards and an irie day to you,
Zol Barbie (senior)
If the world ended today due to a zombie apocalypse and the only bud left in the world was the lowest grade possible – would you smoke it, or say cheers to the green?
The only thing I turn down… is my collar.
Even though I’m undoubtedly the most spoiled weed princess in South Africa, I do not discriminate when it comes to the sacred herb. Say what you want, but sometimes there’s nothing quite like a “lekka old-school, parkie-gras slow-boat” to take you back to your roots. It reminds me of the early days; the beginning of my journey with cannabis.
My husband is a weed snob and doesn’t agree with me at all, but twice a year he will go to the ‘kasie’ to buy me a R10 matchbox when I ask him to. Nothing gets you as couch-locked as low-grade bud when you’re only used to the finest.
After all… I’m not ‘Top Shelf Barbie’; I’m ZOL Barbie.
We had a blast catching up with this amazing activist. We cannot wait to see what else Zol barbie has in store for the future! Make sure to check out her Instagram, as well as Just Cannabis if you’re looking for an all-in-one growing soil.