Without exaggeration, there is absolutely no other area on Earth where one may observe and experience the cannabis culture more than Jamaica. Jamaica’s breathtaking marijuana culture is unrivaled in the world. Furthermore, because cannabis was ingrained in Jamaicans’ collective psyche, it is nothing short of astonishing to investigate the wacky ways in which ganja has eternally shaped the country’s past.
While many cannabis enthusiasts are enticed to visit Jamaica, enjoy a 420-friendly sweet escape while bathing in the sun’s warm rays, strolling down the island’s trendy local bars, and beaches. We want to invite you to join us on a one-of-a-kind journey into Jamaica’s raw, uncut, and untamed face of weed culture.
Suppose you want to truly experience the culture of people from different places around the world. In that case, there is no better way to do it than meeting the local people and learning more about their authentic lifestyle, customs, beliefs, worries, and dreams. Anthony Bourdain has passionately promoted throughout his spectacular, beautiful, meaningful, and simply remarkable career as a foodie, writer, TV host, and traveler. And when we say “meet the locals,” we don’t mean the individuals who will serve your beer at the beach bar or the hotel’s local receptionists.
We seldom meet with the locals of any nation who can show you the true face of the local culture since we like to stay on the trodden road. We frequently visit the most famous tourist locations and then search the internet for restaurant recommendations before deciding where to eat.
However, just minutes or hours away from the crowded public areas, there’s a whole other side of the local spirit to discover. This fully applies to Jamaica, especially when it comes to sinking into an absolute cannabis nirvana for the senses by embracing the opportunity to explore the centuries-old marijuana culture from the inside out.
You are roaming down fields of cannabis that extend for more than 9 miles into the rural areas of Jamaica. Smoking from a local indigenous type of bong fumes the entire room, thus, making the cannabis smoke fully available to anyone present during the ritual of smoking. By exploring the locals’ 100% organic and fully sustainable cannabis cultivation practices, we want to contaminate you with Jamaica’s weed culture vibes and leave your mind hungry for more.
Cannabis in Jamaica: How Ganja Growing and Consumption Are Passed on from Generations
It’s no secret that Rastafarianism has a big hand in the massive cannabis culture that has become ingrained in Jamaican society. In the same way, Italy is known for its excellent pizza and England is known for its wet weather, Jamaica is known for its ganja. But how did an island nation with such a small population become influential in spreading cannabis culture worldwide?
Did Jamaica influence the world of cannabis, or did the world of cannabis influence Jamaica to such an extent as they became intertwined?
The reality, on the other hand, is somewhere in the golden medium.
And, before we get to the juicy, fascinating facts about cannabis in Jamaica, we must first investigate the origins of the most common name for pot in Jamaica – oh, sure, we’re talking about GANJA, my man. Sorry to disappoint you (maybe). Ganja is not a Jamaican word and has nothing to do with Rastafarianism.
While Jamaicans refer to weed as ganja and specifically the buds of cannabis flowers as ganja, the word “ganja” has a Hindi origin.
Hindi is a Northern Indian language that is developed from Sanskrit. Furthermore, Hindi is the world’s fourth most frequently spoken language, with over 250 million individuals happy to identify as native Hindi speakers.
So, how did an Indian word find its way into Jamaican culture and then spread to North America and Europe in less than a century? And, more importantly, how come growing weed in Jamaica is passed down for generations, even though there is no evidence of marijuana cultivation in the island country before the 1900s?
A Brief History of Ganja in Jamaica
The Spanish discovered Jamaica in the early sixteenth century. As a result, Jamaica was conquered and became a Spanish crown colony.
But what about the era before the early 16th century? In a word, Jamaica’s history (at least the portion of it that isn’t tied to marijuana) is pretty lengthy, dating back to between 4000 and 1000 BC. The Arawak and Tano, Jamaica’s original peoples, arrived on the island around that time.
In 1655, England attacked the island of Jamaica many centuries later. The English conquistadors took over the island kingdom from the Spanish and transformed it into the world’s largest sugar producer. Slavery was beginning to expand its reach and extent during the time. Jamaica proved to be an ideal stopover for foreign ships on extended South America or Africa and ended in North America.
However, things were about to alter radically in Jamaica between 1655 and the 1800s, when the slave trade and sugar cane production grew. The worldwide slave trade was outlawed in 1807. By 1838, all slaves in the British Empire, including Jamaicans, had been freed. In 1845, England began importing legally hired workers from India, ready to put in a large quantity of back-breaking labor to meet Britain’s plantation demands. Former Jamaican slaves endured the arduous struggle that locals saw their relatives survive for years, just as their forefathers did for over a century.
Jamaicans were hungry and eager for FREEDOM, not just the shards of it, but the purest, most genuine, and most full version of it. While Jamaicans were no longer obliged to labor as slaves to obtain physical liberation, they also yearned for spiritual liberty.
And, as though Destiny had a hand in molding Jamaica’s future as one of the world’s most spiritual countries, England imported almost 40 000 indentured laborers from India between 1845 and 1917. The Indian laborers would be the ones to introduce their extensive expertise in cannabis to Jamaica.
They were carrying cannabis seeds ready to be planted and more than willing to share their cannabis-related know-how with the locals. The Indian laborers were the first to introduce the term “ganja” in Jamaica to share the secrets of various cannabis preparations deeply rooted in Hinduism.
When trying to decode the mysteries of weed culture in Jamaica, it is essential to look into the Hinduism understanding of cannabis as the ancient, sacred herb of the god Shiva. But while Jamaicans adopted a big part of the Hindu understanding of marijuana, they also chose to embrace a genuinely one-of-kind approach to ganja of their own. The Rastafari movement highly influenced this unique approach.
Ganja and Rastafari: Looking into Hidden Truths and Marijuana as a Highly Spiritual Plant
Rastafarianism, or the Rastafari movement, started in 1930. However, it wasn’t before 1962 when Jamaica attained complete independence. It was in 1962 when Jamaica officially left the UK. The period of about thirty years from the start of the Rastafari movement to announcing Jamaica’s complete independence in 1962 was crucial. It played a vital role in the establishment of the core values and concepts of Rastafarianism. From an Ayurvedic perspective, chronic use of cannabis is considered prajnaparadh, which translates into “crime against wisdom.” For when the initial euphoria of cannabis consumption wears off, there is a tendency among users to keep looking into experiencing the same euphoric effect over and over again without actually trying to establish a profound, in-depth understanding of the powerful properties of cannabis.
But as briefly mentioned above, Jamaicans did not fully adopt the Hindu understanding of cannabis, and instead, they embedded their very personal attitude towards cannabis consumption.
In Rastafarianism, there is no such thing as consuming too much weed or considering chronic use of cannabis as a form of a spiritual crime or whatsoever. It is quite the opposite. Most Rastafarians are used to consuming marijuana 24/7. In Rastafarianism, ganja is as important as the bread that people put on their tables; it is omnipresent; it is the most powerful spiritual tool; ganja is just as necessary as breathing; and ultimately, ganja is a way of life. To comprehend the role of cannabis in Rastafarianism, we must get back to the period of about thirty years from 1930 to 1962, when the Rastafari movement was crystallized and popularized.
The Rastafari Movement: Faith, Marijuana, Reggae, and a Message to the World
The very reason that led to the rise of the Rastafari movement was that Jamaicans of African origin were determined to reject the domination of the British imperial culture entirely. It is none other but the Jamaican motivator and public speaker Maces Garvey who took on a personal quest – a mission of a lifetime – to educate Africans all over the world about their origin. Garvey was determined to bring awareness to the Africans regarding their rich history, but he also spoke of the rich heritage waiting for them in their homeland. And so, the Afrocentrism movement was born.
The Afrocentrism movement pushed the Jamaican culture into praising Africa. Africa was seen as the Motherland, or better yet, the Promised Land. A land where black people could most deservedly live a life of peace and abundance, and most importantly, a life deprived of the forcefully cast authority of other countries, such as that of the British Empire, which was still ruling the island of Jamaica at that time, despite the end of slavery. In Rastafarianism, Jamaica seeing as the Hell on Earth. In contrast, Africa was sought as the Heaven on Earth because of the blood, hard labor, and all the difficulties, penalties, and regulations Jamaicans faced during the years of slavery. Up-to-date, Jamaicans take pilgrimage trips to Africa.
The very word “Rastafari” was coined by combining two peculiar terms. The first one is “Ras,” which stands for “duke or prince,” while the second part of the word “Rastafari” is derived from “Tafari Makonnen.” TafariMakonnen is the pre-signal title of Haile Selassie, an Ethiopian aristocrat who managed to gain a broad fan base in Jamaica. The thing is, the reason why Haile Selassie was put in the very spotlights of Rastafarianism is, then again, related to a highly spiritual message. Yes, weed culture in Jamaica, and, in fact, Jamaican culture as a whole, is infinitely and intricately associated with spiritualism.
In 1920, during one of his public speeches, Marcus Garvey said that the day of ultimate liberation for Jamaicans – “the day of deliverance” –will be “at hand” when a black king is crowned in Africa. When Haile Selassie went to power, the Jamaicans saw it as the promised day of deliverance predicted by Garvey. However, by the 1960s, the long-dreamed return to the Motherland of Africa, particularly Ethiopia, which Jamaicans praised as the Promised Land, took a whole new direction. Instead of looking forward to the day of going back to Africa, Jamaicans embraced the return to the Motherland of Africa symbolically. Thus, Rastafarianism gradually evolved solely around the quest for ultimate spiritual freedom through interpreting Christian religion in a never-seen-before manner.
In the 1970s, the Rastafari movement was no longer limited to the island country of Jamaica. At that time, there were thousands of people hungry for freedom, hungry for something profoundly different than what any religion has taught humankind so far, and that was enough to make Rastafarianism go viral globally. And as you get to think of it, there is no logical reason not to love the very essence of the Rastafari movement.
It is generously sprinkled with high-quality reggae music that speaks of peace and harmony, but yet it also calls for rebellion and breaking of all the senseless. Limiting fears and beliefs cast by social conditioning and by the authorities, coupled with a liberal approach to Christianity which was yet deeply rooted in the core values of the Christian religion, Rastafarianism seemed to have it all.
Plus, the exotic, fancy newfound hairstyle accompanied by the divine freedom and joy of exploring the spiritual benefits of ganja as an intricate part of the Rastafari movement was meant to take the world as if by storm. When speaking of the Rastafarians’rebellion against authorities, it is essential to highlight that according to Rastafarianism, not all institutions are seen as enemies of people’s free will and well-being. Instead, it is only and solely the authorities that forbid people to practice their religion and traditions that were commonly mentioned in reggae music under the nickname Babylon.
The nickname “Babylon” was used in reggae as a metaphorical referral of the Rastafarians’ opposition to institutions.
While the Rastafari movement was gaining more and more followers globally, so did the governments’ relentlessness against them members of the Rastafarianism. Paired with the call for rebellion against all institutions that forbid you to practice the traditions you feel to reside best with your highest Self, and there we have the #1 global enemy of the anti-marijuana propagators in the glorious 70s – Jamaican Rastafarians.
But even more importantly, there is yet another layer of the significant Rasta beliefs that the nickname Babylon stands for. The fight against Babylon represents the indigenous Jamaican way of opposing any institution acting out of place by affecting the people or the environment. According to the Rastafarian beliefs, our current world is Babylon because of the ferocious focus on materialism. Nowadays, when the global population is on the brink of the most significant ecological catastrophe caused by the careless way institutions allowed greed and consumerism to deprive Planet Earth of its biodiversity for plant and animal wildlife. Accompanied by the global changes in climate and soil fertility depletion, the spiritual messages embedded in Rastafarianism have, indeed, become more relevant than ever before.
But would the fact that the messages of Rastafarianism have become more relevant than ever make the most famous public figure associated with the weed culture in Jamaica, Bob Marley himself, proud, if he was alive up-to-date.
Considering Marley’s stunningly wise approach to the sacred relationship between the human spirit, the living nature, and ganja. Marley would have never been able to find inner peace if he was to witness the disastrous, ugly consequences of human activity that have brought Planet Earth on the verge of a total disaster.
Quick Facts about Rastafarianism that will Sparkle your Curiosity
1. Lions are the Rastafariofficial symbols.
2. Rastafari would frown upon the mention of Rastafarianism, as they consider “-isms” as symbols of Babylon (or, in other words, of corrupt institutions that don’t care for people’s rights, spirituality, and traditions)
3. The oldest division of the Rasta movement is the Nyahbinghi Order. They are very strict about sticking with a 100% organic, vegan diet. Growing their herbs in their backyards, Rastafari is notorious for their modest, humble approach to life and taking pleasure in simple things.
So, what can we learn from Rastafari? Growing your herbs, including cannabis plants from seeds, is simply the best! Apart from the pleasure of receiving the sweetest fruits upon harvesting, this is the most environmentally beneficial option one can make.
Top 4 Weed Culture Phenomenon that Can be Only Seen and Experienced in Jamaica!
#1. Bob Marley’s legacy
The Bob Marley Museum, located in Kingston, is a must-see for anybody visiting the tranquil island of Jamaica. But the fact is that tuning in to the flow of Marley’s eternal spirit and learning more about Marley’s everlasting messages to the world is not just possible by visiting the Bob Marley Museum. Listening to some of Bob Marley’s songs while smoking a big chunk of Jamaican cannabis is the most acceptable way to appreciate the extraordinary phenomenon of the Rasta movement, reggae music, and finally, the most enthusiastic marijuana advocate and devotee – Bob Marley.
Marley was jailed for possession of marijuana in 1968, but that didn’t stop him from using the herb, which he regarded as one of the most potent spiritual plants. Throughout his life, Marley stayed faithful to his spiritual convictions and never ceased advocating legalizing marijuana. Marley nearly died in 1976 when seven armed men attacked his home and shot him in the chest and arm.
Apprehended years later, one of the assailants claimed that he had been hired by the CIA for the task and was compensated with firearms and cocaine. Nothing could stop people from feeling the force of Marley’s words and music. He was considered one of the biggest dangers to constructing a marijuana-free society in the United States in the 1970s.
Bob Marley, who was 36 years old at the time, died of melanoma, a kind of cancer. Cancer began to spread below Marley’s toenail. The melanoma then progressed quickly to Bob’s heart and lungs. Without delving too further into conspiracy theories, it’s difficult not to remark that the most famous story surrounding Marley’s death was that the CIA sent him a pair of shoes contaminated with cancer cells. While the world lost one of the most beautiful, open minds and gifted, kind souls when Bob Marley died, he did not lose the battle against Babylon that he had started.
Marley’s lessons to the world are more important than ever. His visionary ideas for pot legalization, which were previously persecuted in the 1970s, are now bearing fruit as marijuana legalization occurs across the United States (and not only).
#2. Mind-blowing weed-smoking practices
There is no other place on Earth – literally no other place on Earth – where you may see and taste the Jamaican manner of smoking cannabis except (surprise, surprise) Jamaica!
To begin with, you’ll seldom see a Rasta using a crutch to roll a joint. They just use cannabis and rolling papers. That is all there is to it.
Oh, and don’t hold your breath while waiting in line to puff, puff, and pass. Jamaicans usually roll and smoke a joint for themselves, so if you see five Rastas smoking, they’ll each be holding five separate joints. You could get lucky and try smoking from an indigenous Jamaican bong, chillum, or pipe if you get to hang out with the locals and meet native Jamaicans while hiking the mountains before leaping down to the shore to soak in the crystal blue waters.
By the way, how much cannabis do you suppose the typical Jamaican morning wake n bake session contains? If you spend time with a local Jamaican who grows weed high in the island’s mountain highlands, you’ll find that 10 grams of weed each breakfast is the standard. We’re curious what the Uruguayan government, which has set a restriction of 40 grams of pot per month for registered cannabis users, thinks about Jamaican weed culture.
Last but not least, the finest destination to sample charas is Jamaica. Charas is a traditional Indian cannabis concentrate created by rubbing female marijuana plants to remove the sticky, tasty, and highly scented resin. As previously stated, the Indians play a significant role in Jamaican weed. The fact that you can taste and participate in the duct of charas in Jamaica is simply fantastic.
#3. Truly impressive organic marijuana grow plantations
Have you ever fantasized about strolling a field of cannabis that appears to go on forever? Jamaica’s pot plantations may fulfill any cannabis connoisseur’s wishes since they stretch for kilometers. There is no worldwide equal to Jamaica’s organic marijuana grow farms, which are nurtured by the generous beams of the Sun and supplied with organic water and nutrients that Mother Nature offers in plenty.
Jamaicans are endowed with the ideal climate for growing marijuana all year long because they live in line with the rules of living nature. Imagine plucking those delicious cannabis blooms month after month, year after year. Isn’t it pure cannabliss, pure cannabis nirvana?
Jamaicans are so inventive when it comes to cannabis production that some have even managed to use organic hydroponic growing techniques by planting marijuana in swamps and allowing the roots of the plants to immerse in the nutrient-rich water! Growers realize that this kind of cultivation might lead to mold issues, but more is always better since they can grow marijuana all year.
#4. Unparalleledcannabis strains
You can legally buy more than just landrace strains when you go to a local cannabis dispensary in Jamaica. On the shelves of Jamaican dispensaries are some of the world’s most popular strains, including OG Kush, Lemon Haze, and Northern Lights, to mention a few. You might be shocked to learn that, even if you think you know everything there is to know about the effects and tastes of these renowned strains, the fact that they have cultivated in Jamaica adds a whole new level of impact and flavors to the mix. Lamb’s Bread is one of the most well-known Jamaican landrace strains. This strain is known as Lamb’s Breath in the Netherlands.
Whatever you want to name it, Lamb’s Bread will allow you to experience the true essence of a 100 percent Sativa strain. This variety has initially been produced on the slopes of the Blue Mountains. Lamb’s Bread’s power should not be underestimated, as it makes a tremendously uplifting, euphoric high that lasts a long time.
Lamb’s Bread cannabis plants may quickly grow to be 3 meters tall, and they blossom for an extended period (20 weeks or more!). Because of the extended flowering period, cannabis farmers would find developing this marijuana type in any country not located in the Equatorial belt, such as Jamaica. Without a sure, this is an excellent reminder of how critical it is to choose the appropriate seeds and strains to cultivate while planning your cannabis production expedition to produce rewarding, high-quality harvests.
Legal Marijuana in Jamaica 101
So, you might be wondering how a visitor might legally acquire marijuana in Jamaica.
First and foremost, in this part, we’ll make things as simple and easy as possible.
In 2015, Jamaica became the first country in the world to legalize medical marijuana. According to Jamaican law, any adult aged 18 or older, whether a visitor or a native, can legally acquire cannabis as long as they obtain a valid medical marijuana authorization from a licensed doctor. Suppose you have a legitimate medical marijuana recommendation signed by a doctor. In that case, it doesn’t matter which state or nation you got it from because it’s valid in Jamaica, giving you the legal right to acquire cannabis.
Even if you don’t have a legitimate medical marijuana recommendation, all you have to do is call the appropriate doctor in Jamaica, who will supply you with the required paperwork to acquire marijuana legally. Also, because Jamaican marijuana regulations are super-duper cannabis tourism-friendly, you won’t have to fake cancer or HIV to get the appropriate documents, and ailments like anxiety or chronic pain qualify you for a medical marijuana recommendation.
In any case, remember that adhering to local regulations is essential. Marijuana is decriminalized in Jamaica, so if a tourist is caught with less than 2 ounces of cannabis buds, they will just have to pay a $5 fine. Hooray! Anyway, don’t try smuggling marijuana into or out of Jamaica since you’ll land yourself in many problems.
Finally, when smoking marijuana in Jamaica, make sure not to annoy anyone with your smoking habits, which means you should avoid smoking in busy public places.
Exploring Jamaica’s Stunning Marijuana Culture: The Takeaway
Cannabis usage for religious purposes was once prohibited in all countries except Jamaica. This, however, did not come without a slew of serious challenges that Rastas had to deal with as ardent ganja consumers. When the anti-marijuana movement was at its peak in the 1970s and 1980s, Rastafarians all over the world were relentlessly pursued. So yet, no legal battles have resulted in the Rastafari religion and the freedom to eat a plant for spiritual reasons triumphing against prohibition laws.
However, with marijuana legalizing in some countries throughout the world, it appears that the battle against Babylon is finally paying dividends.
Cannabis tourism is currently booming in Jamaica. Most significantly, individuals are not punished for exercising their sacred rights to use ganja, a highly cherished ceremonial and traditional herb of the island nation.
However, it’s crucial to remember that there are two sides to every coin, and the battle against Babylon is far from ended for many Rastas. Many residents are opposed to considering cannabis as merely a cash crop. Only time will tell what the future holds for ganja on the island of Jamaica and how the marijuana culture evolves.
We highlighted Anthony Bourdain, a revered figure of our time, and his everlasting, always-relevant message of embracing travel as a method of getting to know the people, their customs, and their most true beliefs and practices at the outset of this essay. We want to wrap off this essay by reminding you of some more enlightening travel tips from Bourdain.
Keep in mind that traveling intends to be pleasant or straightforward. It may sometimes be so painful that it tears your heart. But it’s all great since the true voyage will transform you for the rest of your life. The imprints left on your memory, intellect, heart, and body are what you carry with you. Traveling, furthermore, provides you with the precious opportunity to leave a positive legacy.
Bourdain’s insights can be interpreted as a direct reference to the reasonably practical side of traveling and exploring the culture of a particular country, as well as in a metaphorical sense.
So, whether you’re planning a trip to Jamaica or simply want to learn more about the local marijuana culture. By browsing the web, remember to keep your mind open for higher perspectives forever and ever, just as the Jamaicans have always kept their horizons wide open to embracing the freedom of choice and spirituality over materialism. Grow your cannabis plants and enjoy the simple pleasures of life since we, like birds, are capable of flying high – joyful and free!