There’s no denying the close link between reggae music and marijuana.
These two peas in a pod are about as tightly knit together as the finest sweater money can buy, as obvious to anyone – reggae fan or not – as the clear blue sky.
Bob Marley and crew certainly did their fair share to build the relationship between the music and the cannabis culture, as has most every reggae act since then. You can’t show up to a reggae concert, reggae club, or reggae show without that familiar smell in the air and being offered a toke by complete and total strangers every few minutes.
Unbelievably though, in the land that created reggae music – Jamaica – it is still illegal to purchase and to consume marijuana. Sure, there has been some pro-cannabis legislation passed in the last few years, but the reggae musicians themselves are still actively fighting the good fight to have this plant decriminalized so that Jamaica especially can capitalize on the kind of marijuana culture that reggae music as so helped to inspire.
Understanding the link between reggae music and marijuana
Reggae music grew out of the roots of the Rastafarian way of life, and there’s absolutely no arguing that. It is deeply rooted in the very core tenants of this way of life, and is considered a sacred herb and critically important to those that practice is religion, this culture, and this tenant of life.
In the early 1960s, when reggae exploded in popularity, reggae musicians like Bob Marley are responsible for bringing the marijuana culture to the rest of the world – but especially the United States.
Marijuana had always been enjoyed in the US (the Native Americans used to grow and consume a considerable amount of long before Christopher Columbus ever stumbled upon our shores), but never in mass quantities quite the way that the reggae culture and hippie counterculture really helped to establish.
Popular reggae musicians coming from Jamaica to the United States helped to push the popularity of marijuana through the roof, deeply linking the herb between the music and the culture itself. Songs were sung about it, musicians were seen consuming it, and it became very much a part of the reggae world.
It’s remained that way ever since.
Today’s relationship between reggae, Jamaica, the United States, and marijuana
As mentioned above, even though the Jamaican reggae community (the birthplace of this music and this culture) has always been very much pro-cannabis over the last 60 years or so, it is still illegal all throughout Jamaica.
There are some exceptions, and the cultures differently shifting towards a decriminalization. At the very least, the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officials and judges tend to ignore those that grow, sell, and consume marijuana – so long as they are doing so responsibly and aren’t active in any other criminal enterprises.
This is why it’s estimated that more than 37,000 acres of prime real estate on the island of Jamaica are dedicated to growing cannabis, making it the number one Caribbean supplier of marijuana throughout the Caribbean and in the United States.
In California, things aren’t all that much better.
Sure, there’s been some decriminalization and is now possible to purchase marijuana legally from dispensaries after getting a prescription from a medical professional, but we are all still quite a long ways away from being able to actually openly purchase marijuana recreationally without having to deal with any legal issues. There is also an increased focus on Marijuana DUI’s, which are currently being prosecuted under questionable science. So even if marijuana is legalized, do not expect tit to get any easier for habitual marijuana smokers, since the current levels of marijuana required for intoxication is potentially so low that a habitual user will always be over the limit, long after impairment has worn off. As much as things change, it seems they stay the same.
A number of US states are hoping to change this, with more and more jumping on board with the decriminalization of marijuana at least as far as recreational use is concerned. Hopefully Jamaica will take action as well, following the lead of the United States, and maybe creating a domino effect that eventually gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy cannabis as they see fit without fear of legal repercussions.
At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that the reggae culture is ever going to abandon marijuana, and it’s unlikely that these two are ever going to be separated. Ganja is always going to be celebrated by Rastafarians kind as long as they continue to produce the world’s best reggae music – as well as continue to embody the very soul of this in general – things aren’t likely to shift anytime soon.