In the continuing series The 7 wonders of Jamaica here is Wonder # 2- Cannabis.
Cannabis. Everybody just pause for a minute. Let’s just stop and take a deep breath.
Growing up I remembered clearly being taught that this plant was a ‘bad’ plant ; that you can get thrown in jail so don’t smoke it, don’t be seen with it and if your friends have it leave them by. My Mom told me this. I was also told it would ‘turn you mad’, Jamaican patois meaning that the plant had side effects that would diagnose you as insane by the authorities. Some of the people I knew seemed to verify that as through their constant smoking their eyes would change color, they no longer looked ‘groomed’ and they were in a state of mental euphoria. I remember seeing every day on TV the arrest made by the authorities and it reinforced what my Mom told me. And so I believed and I conformed. Never smoked it, always hating those that had it. But time has a way of teaching you things in life that you take for granted. I kept asking myself ‘why is this plant illegal?”. Everyone I asked did not give me a definitive answer? So I decided to do my research and this is what I found.
1. WHAT’S IN A NAME: This plant has more names than any other plant I know – Cannabis, pot, marijuana, weed, herb, bush, sinsemilla , cali weed, mary jane, hemp, grass, ganja, skunk (because it can smell like skunk spray), hashish and many more. Not to mention that each “strain” of cannabis is given its own name, some of which are quite interesting.There are hundreds of other names for the plant and its derivatives. So with so many names in so many countries meaning so many things to so many people why is it so bad ?
2. IT PRODUCES HEMP: Cannabis – the scientific name has long been used for fibre (hemp), for seed and seed oils, for Industrial hemp products are made from Cannabis plants . Various extracts including hashish and hash oil are also produced from the plant. So if this plant has so many derivatives including hemp, a known product of immense use, why is this plant illegal?
3. MEDICINAL USE: Cannabis has tested and proven medicinal values that ails a lot of the diseases that we are fighting now from glaucoma to cancer. Just recently Dr. Sanja Gupta , a chief medical correspondent for CNN reversed his opinion on Cannabis – Hmmm. Ok so if this plant has medicinal purposes, tested or otherwise, then why is it bad, why is it illegal?
4. NO GROUNDS FOR ILLEGALITY: When you look at the historical timeline you will see that it was during the turbulent years of “Prohibition” , in the 1930’s that Cannabis was outlawed. The legislations passed were all cock-eyed to please the various interest groups to make sure that their pockets were well-greased. Legislation was passed without he knowledge of the people at the time and what was fed to them they believed. Remember the old adage feed them what you want them to believe, and they will believe. Cannabis was declared a ‘drug’ and a narcotic that only the lowest of the lowest , the Mexicans and Indians at the time, used. It was said it gave these people the false pretense that they were ‘equal’ to the dominant class at the time. The drug also caused them to rape white women. It must be banned. In modern society the arguments presented in the 1930’s about Cannabis would be seen as racist, dumbfounded, has no legal or factual basis and full of self-interest and nepotism all grounds for an over turn.
5. IT IS NOT A DRUG: The anti-narcotics law written to regulate narcotics–opium and its derivatives, such as heroin, cocaine and morphine had nothing to do with Cannabis. Cannabis has not been proven to date that the side effects are devastating to an individual any more so alcohol , tobacco and all the other designer prescribed drugs that are legal. If Cannabis makes you crazy, high and delusional then so too does alcohol, aspirin, Benadryl, coffee, and the list goes on and you can easily get these over the counter. Tobacco, the great hope to millions, causes more deaths per year and it is fashionable to say the least. The contradictions don’t add up. Why aren’t these drugs illegal ?
6. RASTA DID NOT ORIGINATE GANJA:
The Jamaican connection with Cannabis
, commonly refereed to as Ganja
, started from the 1800 brought here by the indentured laborers as slavery coming to an end. These East Indians introduced Cannabis
to the Jamaican populace and they used it for medicinal and recreational use. It was like smoking the hashish
. Contrary to public belief the Rastafarians
did not originate Ganja
in Jamaica. They , like the Indians and other herbalist then , used it and smoked it for the same reason everyone did at the time which was the natural ‘high’ and medicinal purposes derived from the properties of the plant. Rastafarians considered Ganja
the “wisdom weed” as its use helps one to gain wisdom. Rastafarians also use it as a part of a religious rite and as a means of getting closer to their inner spiritual self. They also equate it to being grown on the grave of King Solomon, but that is another story.
Bob Marley one of the most popular icon of the Rasta religion.
7. ILLEGAL IN JAMAICA: This is where you have to stop and ask why? By virtue of being the Caribbean largest producer of ganja , Jamaica was pressured to conform to ‘international standards’ and declare its use illegal. Why you might ask? Because the USA said so. My summation is that so much money was riding on the other combatting industries there was no way the US was going to defeat its own self-interest and allow a small minion like Jamaica disrupt its monetary base. So Jamaica declared it illegal on those grounds only, not by its own research or findings. The result of this immature action – the clogging up of the courts and jails with frivolous arrests and declaring Ganja a luxury product ,putting value , cause and effect on Cannabis. Hence the volatile drug trade.
...”Jamaica has signed three international treaties that make possession of marijuana a criminal offense, including the 1988 U.N. Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Hylton the DPP of Jamaica, did not outline possible penalties for violating the treaties but said decriminalizing marijuana could put Jamaica at risk of losing its annual antidrug certification from the United States. Countries that lose U.S. certification can face economic sanctions. The U.S. government, which gives Jamaica up to $2 million in annual aid, has consistently opposed the island’s efforts to loosen its drug laws…” (From cannabisnews.com)
8. THE DRUG TRADE: The Drug Trade was conceived , created, fostered and nourished by the same people who declared Cannabis illegal – the USA. The US consumption of Cannabis is at an all time high, the market exist for the sale and distribution of the plant. Mexico and other countries are the largest producers , with Jamaica used as a middle man in most cases. In recent times Jamaican middle men took the risk of going it alone , often to the demise of their product and their organization. Hence the vicious war and related crime and violence . Cannabis is not the cause of war. Man is. Man is fighting with himself. On one hand is Cannabis, on the other is oil, the only difference oil is restricted to a few countries so the war is ‘manageable”. Cannabis on the other hand is everywhere in people’s homes, bedrooms , backyards and cellars. How are you going to fight a war where the enemy is all around you?
9. THE SECRET IS OUT: With the help of the social media, the secret is finally out and the people are no longer fooled as in the 1930s. Hence so many states and countries have made Cannabis legal for personal and medicinal use .
The battle is big and the system created by the US will untie itself but in time, Cannabis will take its rightful place in society as a legal entity. As for Jamaica , a forward thinking government would investigate , plan and manage the use of Ganja to help the country economically. A forward thinking government would decriminalize the personal use of Ganja saving its tax payers millions of dollars. The very country that forced everyone to sign the international treaty is the very one , little by little, legalizing the use of Cannabis. So why is Jamaica still worried and scared of the big bad wolf?
Jamaica is sitting on a wealth too vast to measure. When we don’t think for ourselves but for others we miss opportunities that others will take away. If Jamaica continues to govern not for its people and its own economic and social path but for the values of others , then we will continue in economic constipation and its citizens the by-product of this harsh reality.
Status of Marijuana in the USA
Countries where Cannabis is Legal/decriminalized: North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Portugal , USA at 14 State levels, Canada ,Uruguay AND COUNTING.