Ganja in Jamaica

Ganja in Jamaica – A Tour between the illegal and the Rastafari religion

I admit, I was incredibly scared before landing in Jamaica.

The flight from Cuba had a stop at Isole Cayman now the jump between Cuba and the Caymans is like going from the Brazilian favelas to the chic neighborhoods of Rome and, in all honesty, I missed the strong smell of the streets of Havana and the cheeky and irreverent way of doing things of the Cubans.
The Caymans, tax havens inhabited by rich Americans, were not for me, also because a single night costs $150 so fortunately the stop was short enough to understand that they were not exactly what I was looking for in my low cost travel.
In the morning at 6 I took the flight to Kingston, but the final destination was Montego Bay.
The flight Cayman islands-Kingston it was crowded with white passengers, a few Jamaicans.

In Kingston everyone gets off and those who have to continue to Montego Bay are asked to remain seated. People change. The accent reminds me of the neighborhood one Brixton, London which, in fact, is that of the Jamaican community.

This English with a strong accent takes me back to places where I had actually already been but here I feel the first “No problem Mom”.
No problem Mom??…I wonder why, although some friends in London told me to avoid going to Jamaica alone, with my usual “I’m not afraid of anything or anyone” attitude, I didn’t really have them listen to you. I’m starting to get nervous.

I land at Montego Bay. Immigration. Printed passport. A Usain Bolt with open arms in victory in a super poster welcomes me.
Taxi to get to the hostel, who cheated me of $25 because as soon as you land you have no idea of ​​the cost of the taxi and so you fall for it, and a chat with the driver who first asks me if I want to buy some ganja, just in case you’re interested and to welcome me to the land of Bolt, Bob Marley from the Ganja, splendid kilometre-long white beaches, dreamy sunsets and gods Gigolo (but I will write another post on these).

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Read also: 11 Top Rated Beaches in Jamaica

Walking through the streets where my hostel is located, the first thing I notice is that there are grates everywhere, and I think, if all public places have grates, perhaps the country is really as dangerous as I was told.
But once on the dancefloor it’s time to dance. I have three weeks and I hope everything goes smoothly.

I walk through the streets of a poor and dusty Montego Bay, far from the beach and the resorts. The eyes of the locals are all red and the people seem relaxed, reggae music plays from every corner.
Red eyes and relaxed spirits…mmmmm…

I thought the myth of Jamaica being ganja and reggae was a myth. I was wrong, it’s the truth.

My new and young Canadian friends invite me to take part in a tour. It’s not clear to me where but without listening too much to the clarifications on where we’re going I join the group.

I love Montego Bay freestanding signage

Tour a una ganja farm

We arrive in a field, in the middle of nowhere. We walk past a small river, while they offer me a coconut to drink, a fruit with known diuretic effects.
And there opens up what I didn’t think existed. A field of marijuana about as tall as me. Trees, not plants.
I’m in one Cannabis Farm. Two Rasta Men welcome us with a “joint” purawith the same ease with which we offer a coffee to the guest who has just crossed the threshold of our house.

Grass flowers so beautiful to photograph and some explanations from the rastaman/village doctor who welcomed us and looks at these plants with the eyes that a herd has for a newborn child.
The red eyes but the friendly tone of the Rasta reassures me, and so I say to myself, but yes…No problem Mom! Let’s go for a walk with this guy.

I enjoyed being there at that moment, the situation seemed absurd to me. We take photos as if we were in Disneyland, our dreadlocks talk to us about the preparation, the care of the plants, such as the optimal conditions, and describe the long and loving interventions to produce this herb which in the common imagination recalls this country, and not to wrongly and above all, they prepare a long explanation about the Rastafari religion and the importance of what they call the Sacred Herb.

In short, a real one guided tour in the illegal Jamaican mysticalsince I remember that ganja is not legal, and if you want to be a fool by smoking on the street you risk being arrested, which at the same time was a particular introduction to what would later become one of my favorite countries in the world.

NB. Ganja is not legal in Jamaica, but finding a taxi driver who will take you to visit a ganja farm it won’t be difficult. Just ask your trusted taxi driver and he will know where to take you (for information on traveling to Jamaica click here).

green cannabis plants during daytime

The Rastafari religion and Ganja

Regardless of whether you are in favor of this herb or not, ganja in Jamaica is literally part of the culture, as well as a fundamental element of the religion even if the Jamaicans themselves prefer to define it as a lifestyle.

Rastafarianism is a spiritual ideology with African foundations that developed in the 1930s in Jamaica, a predominantly Christian country and part of which is accepted by the Bible (even if in some passages it is considered corrupt), and accepts the existence of only one God, called Jahwho sent his son to earth in the form of Jesus or Selassie.

Without going into too much detail about the region, about which you can find a lot of information, what I want to do here is to mention the relationships that exist between religion and the consumption of this “medicine” by these characters who are considered doctors in the village who, in addition to growing ganja, treat with natural medicines and know all the medical properties of the plants they cultivate with dedication.
I think it is therefore interesting to explain the role of ganja which for a rasta taxthe vegetarian one, with dreadlocks and a beard (those without beards are most of the time GIGOLOs, watch out).

Per i Rasta Smoking ganja is a spiritual gesturea sacrament that cleanses the body and the mind, lifts the soul, exalts the conscience, promotes peace, brings pleasure and above all brings us closer to Jah.

Rastas believe that the Bible itself speaks of ganja as a sacred herb and therefore justifies it, these are the verses:
Genesis 1:11 – “Let the earth produce vegetation, herbs that yield seed and fruit trees that, according to their species, bear fruit having its own seed in itself, on the earth”. And so it was.”
Genesis 1:29 – “Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed that is in all the earth, and every tree in which there is fruit yielding seed; they shall be your food.”
Genesis 3:18 – “Thorns and thistles it will produce for you, and you will eat field grass.”
Proverbs 15:17 – “Better a dish of herbs, where there is love, than an ox gets fat”

The illegality of this herb is experienced as a prohibitionist act typical of the white world due to the fact that by opening the mind of those who smoke it it would lead to greater awareness of the black people, something that the white materialistic world does not want.

Ganja is not considered a drug other than a medicine that brings you closer to God, although it is common practice to smoke it, you smoke it only when your soul is willing to elevate and not when you are inflicted by sorrow or bad thoughts. It must be a means that helps to open one’s mind and conscience and not something without a mystical and profound purpose.

Bob Marley – Beyond Raggae music

Bob Marley plays and resonates in bars, radios and wherever there is music, he is a legend. Point.
He was a Rasta. One of the largest and most recognized in the world.
His role was important, because with his music he brought to the fore the condition of Jamaicans and the Rastafari religion by fighting for their rights and above all he opened up this world to whites too, given that until the 1970s this was a reality only and exclusively black.

International symbol of the Rasta movement Bob Marley with his songs gave hope, voice and dignity to a spiritual and religious movement that goes far beyond ganja but which unfortunately is often associated only and exclusively with this aspect, which however important is only one of many.

Ganja in Jamaica


The Rasta diet

Rastas who observe the religion follow a diet called Ital (from the word VITAL), a completely natural diet, free from chemical agents and preservatives. Eating pork and shellfish is prohibited. Most Rastafarians are vegetarians or vegans.
Coffee and milk are rejected as they are considered unnatural and the use of alcohol is condemned as it is chemically fermented and makes a person stupid and in moments of drunkenness he allows himself to be manipulated by the white man. There sacred herb (the ganja) is instead a natural element and makes Rastas believe that it opens their mind and helps them think better and more freely.

Rastafarian language

Rastas developed the King’s Iyaric, a language with some differences from British, Rastas speak Patois, a sort of English mixed with an African rhythm and words whose differences (with English) are a little difficult to find. Yet they are there.

“I” this takes the place of me, you, mine, ours, us. There is no separation between “I and I”, the Me would make people become queues therefore the I is used indiscriminately for the individual. The I also indicates the personal relationship with God.

Babylon indicates the white world, made up of corruption and materialism

Zion it is the perfect balance between human rights and dignity

Irie indicates positive emotions and peaceful vibration. Irator is used instead of “creator”

In dreadlocks (the trecce rasta) related to the fear of God and obviously hark back to the beginnings of the movement

Polytricks word that is used instead of “politics” because politics is seen as corrupt and politicians are identified as “Trickster”.

Red that is, stoned, or under the influence of cannabis whose effect is red eyes.

Downpression instead of oppression because oppression, instead of making a man rise, throws him to the ground instead of keeping him Up (which in Jamaican is pronounced OP). Downgression instead of violence (from aggression)

Overstanding (or “innerstanding”) instead of “understanding”, understood as enlightenment that leads to consciousness

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