Ace & Axel's smokable CBD hemp cigarette
(Detail from an Ace & Axel marketing campaign)
  • American company Ace & Axle hopes to making smoking hemp cigarettes cool, and touts the health benefits of inhaling CBD that way.
  • South African listed company Labat Africa will now help produce the cannabis that goes into the pre-rolls, and will distribute the cigarettes throughout the continent.
  • A 20-pack of Ace & Axle is priced at R180 in the USA.
  • The "health conscious" smoke will calm you down, Ace & Axle says, but does not contain enough THC to get you high.
  • The marketing is rather reminiscent of the days when smoking was portrayed as cool.
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If all goes according to plan, dagga produced in South Africa will be appearing on South African shelves – under an American brand – in the form of "CBD smokables" in the near future.

On Wednesday the JSE-listed Labat Africa announced a deal to buy Northern Cape medical cannabis producer Leaf Botanicals, in a R11.25 million all-share transaction.

It also announced what it will be doing with the marijuana produced by Leaf, which is due to start its second harvest this month.

See also | One of SA’s first legal dagga farmers was just valued at R15 million in an all-share acquisition

One of its subsidiaries has agreed to provide American company Ace and Axle (which sells under the brand name Ace & Axle) "with its worldwide requirements for hemp CBD smokables", Labat told its shareholders.

Labat now holds the exclusive distribution rights for Ace & Axle across Africa, for the next 10 years.

Ace & Axle's cigarettes "will soon be launched in South Africa", Labat said.

In the USA, what the company describes as "premium hemp pre-rolls" sell for the equivalent of R180 for a pack of 20, or just about R9 per cigarette.

That won't get you high, says Ace and Axle; it uses hemp flower, which is high in cannabidiol (CBD) but low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive in cannabis, at less than 0.3%.

The Ace & Axel pack
(Via Ace and Axel)

But smoking an Ace & Axle will calm you down, the company claims – fast.

"The most significant benefit of smoking CBD bud is the fact that it starts taking effect almost immediately," says Ace & Axle in its marketing material. "Smoking allows the cannabinoids to get into direct contact with the user's lungs and distribute them all over the body via the bloodstream. The only faster way to get such quick results is by taking CBD intravenously."

Ace & Axle is sold as cigarettes with a "health conscious" twist, but the focus of its advertising material resembles the tobacco-cigarette era when those were presented as a cool lifestyle choice.

The brand tag line is "live your way", and ads are packed with implausibly good-looking young people who, presumably, epitomise the "trendsetters, pack leaders and modern-day mavericks" Ace & Axle says it is designed for.

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