Cannabis and the rastafari movement

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If you have had any contact with cannabis culture, you have probably noticed the importance of Rastafari iconography. Cannabis has long been associated with the Rastafari religious movement. Their use of this plant in communal rituals has gained worldwide fame. This is the history of this faith and the role that cannabis plays in their beliefs.

Bob Marley, famous Rastafarian musician.

Contents
  1. Table of Contents
  2. The Rastafari Religious Movement
  3. Rastafari – Faith or Lifestyle
  4. Rastafari Origins
  5. Rastafari leader Haile Selassie
  6. Rastafari and Socialism
  7. The spread of Rasta
  8. Cannabis as Sacred
  9. How did Rastafarians discover cannabis? The Rastafarian faith is most commonly associated with the use of cannabis. However, they are not the first religion to include it. This could be Hinduism, which has many sects that include the ceremonial use of cannabis. Moreover, the positive references to cannabis in Hindu scriptures are even clearer than in the Bible. Hindus probably brought cannabis to Jamaica. The British Empire forced indentured laborers from India to move to Jamaica and work alongside Jamaicans. At that time they shared the cannabis plant with the Jamaicans. Indian hemp was very well received. The Hindi word for Indian hemp is “ganja”, itself derived from the Sanskrit “ganjika”. Influence of the Rasta Faith The name ganja became established in Jamaica and was incorporated into the Rastafari faith. Hindus may even have taught Jamaicans the spiritual use of cannabis. But Rastas may also have been influenced by the traditional Kumin faith. The Kumin faith was widely practiced in Jamaica at the time of the formation of the Rastafari faith. This religion believed that cannabis brought people closer to their ancestors. They even believed that ancestors could possess people. Mixing religions to form Rastafari Rastafari pushed their own way, rejecting the ancestor worship of other Afrocentric religions. Rastafari is focused on a glorious future in which Jah will save the world from evil. They have commonalities with many other religions, as well as controversial positions on homosexuality and gender roles. Rastafari is a young movement, but has experienced repression, ridicule, the death of its savior Haile Selassie and the death of its most famous member Bob Marley. It has successfully advocated for the legal use of cannabis in ceremonies, even in countries years away from its official legalization. They even began to mend fences with the Jamaican government. Cannabis in Jamaica Today During decades of tension with Rastafari, the Jamaican government strictly criminalized cannabis. Internationally, Jamaica is synonymous with cannabis. Jamaica’s Caribbean climate is ideal for growing this plant. In fact, cannabis is often seen thriving in the wild in Jamaica. Today, Jamaica is trying to mend fences with the Rastafarians. In fact, as a result of recent reforms, possession of cannabis has been decriminalized for less than 2 ounces or 56,6 grams. Rastas are completely free to use it for religious reasons. Jamaican citizens and even tourists can apply to use medical cannabis. And any Jamaican can grow five or fewer cannabis plants in their own home. YouTube video: Cannabis and the Rastafari Movement
  10. Influence of the Rasta Faith
  11. Mixing religions to form Rastafari
  12. Cannabis in Jamaica Today
  13. YouTube video: Cannabis and the Rastafari Movement

Table of Contents

The Rastafari Religious Movement

Rastafari is a religious movement that originated in Jamaica. Reggae music has popularized it worldwide. Particularly famous adherents of Rastafarianism are converts such as Peter Tosh and Bob Marley.

What started from very humble origins has spread all over the world. To date, the largest rasta populations live in countries as far away as Jamaica, Ethiopia, Botswana, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and even Japan. There are about one million Rastafari followers worldwide. Not bad for a movement founded in the 1930s

Rastafari – Faith or Lifestyle

Young and popular Rastafari are distinguished by their association with marijuana. The truth behind the stereotype of the marijuana-smoking Rastafari is more nuanced. In fact, some believe that Rastafari is more a way of life than a religion. Why is this so?

The Rastafari faith does not have the typical structure of organized religion. There is no church or clergy. However, spirituality plays a large role in the Afrocentric interpretation of Christianity and in the reasons for promoting cannabis use.

Rastafari Origins

The Rastafari movement developed among working-class blacks in Jamaica in the 1930s. It began partly as a social stance against whites and the middle class, whom Rastafarians saw as oppressors.

Rastafarians believed that Caribbean slave traders had deprived them of their African heritage. Their religious movement has sought to restore and celebrate this heritage.

The Rastafari or Rasta movement accepts the Bible as the sacred text. However, it interprets the Bible in an Afrocentric way. In doing so, Rasta seeks to reverse what it sees as changes made to the text by white powers.

Rastafari leader Haile Selassie

The movement recognizes Haile Selassie I, a former Ethiopian emperor who was praised as a black leader in the heart of Africa, as its spiritual leader. For the Rastas, Haile Selassie was the embodiment of Jah, or God, who would one day lead people of African descent to the promised land. Haile Salassie died in 1975, but the Rastafari faith did not accept his death. They believe that one day he will return.

Rastafari and Socialism

Rastafari have also looked up to Jamaican socialist Marcus Garvey, whose philosophy they believe can help pave the way to a new world order.

From the beginning, the Rastafari faith embraced communal living. Leonard Howell, often referred to as “the first Rasta,” founded the first Rastafarian commune of 5,000 people at Pinnacle in St. Catherine, Jamaica. His subsequent persecution by Jamaican authorities summed up for many the decades of oppression of black Africans.

The spread of Rasta

The Rastafarian movement spread from Jamaica to the world, thanks in part to the immense popularity of its most famous member, Bob Marley. The reggae star’s lyrics are imbued with Rasta doctrine and embody the spirit of the movement.

In addition to Marley, other Rasta symbols include the dreadlock and marijuana. Not all Rastafari practitioners wear dreadlocks. They believe that the dreadlock hairstyle is supported by the Bible. Smoking marijuana (aka ganja) is considered a spiritual act. Rastas often accompany smoking marijuana by reading the Bible.

Rastafari believe that smoking marijuana is sanctioned by the Bible. They believe it purifies the body and mind and brings the soul closer to God. However, Rastafari has never been a highly organized religion. Many Rastafari see it more as a culture or way of life.

Cannabis as Sacred

Another important aspect of the Rastafari faith is the use of cannabis. Rastafari tend to avoid alcohol, tobacco and even caffeine, claiming that they diminish one’s health and dignity. Conversely, they view cannabis as a sacred plant that calms a restless mind and allows one to think more clearly.

Surprisingly, the reason they believe cannabis helps their spiritual and mental health is also biblical. There are many biblical references to the “herbs” that Rastas use to honor cannabis. These include Psalms 18:8 and Revelation 22:2.

Rastafari practitioners often gather in groups and pass each other pipes or joints. They may then discuss philosophical issues in a non-confrontational manner. These are part of community ceremonies called grounding. This practice is believed to improve judgment and social cohesion, especially one’s relationship with God, whom they call “Jah.”

Rastafarians value the ability to reason against the destructive ideologies of the world. In fact, they tend to reject dogmatic forms of ideology or ‘ism’. They do not like to use terms like “Rastafarian” or “Rastafarianism”. It seems acceptable to refer to a practitioner as a “Rasta”.

How did Rastafarians discover cannabis? The Rastafarian faith is most commonly associated with the use of cannabis. However, they are not the first religion to include it. This could be Hinduism, which has many sects that include the ceremonial use of cannabis. Moreover, the positive references to cannabis in Hindu scriptures are even clearer than in the Bible. Hindus probably brought cannabis to Jamaica.

The British Empire forced indentured laborers from India to move to Jamaica and work alongside Jamaicans. At that time they shared the cannabis plant with the Jamaicans. Indian hemp was very well received. The Hindi word for Indian hemp is “ganja”, itself derived from the Sanskrit “ganjika”.

Influence of the Rasta Faith

The name ganja became established in Jamaica and was incorporated into the Rastafari faith. Hindus may even have taught Jamaicans the spiritual use of cannabis. But Rastas may also have been influenced by the traditional Kumin faith.

The Kumin faith was widely practiced in Jamaica at the time of the formation of the Rastafari faith. This religion believed that cannabis brought people closer to their ancestors. They even believed that ancestors could possess people.

Mixing religions to form Rastafari

Rastafari pushed their own way, rejecting the ancestor worship of other Afrocentric religions. Rastafari is focused on a glorious future in which Jah will save the world from evil. They have commonalities with many other religions, as well as controversial positions on homosexuality and gender roles.

Rastafari is a young movement, but has experienced repression, ridicule, the death of its savior Haile Selassie and the death of its most famous member Bob Marley. It has successfully advocated for the legal use of cannabis in ceremonies, even in countries years away from its official legalization. They even began to mend fences with the Jamaican government.

Cannabis in Jamaica Today

During decades of tension with Rastafari, the Jamaican government strictly criminalized cannabis. Internationally, Jamaica is synonymous with cannabis. Jamaica’s Caribbean climate is ideal for growing this plant. In fact, cannabis is often seen thriving in the wild in Jamaica.

Today, Jamaica is trying to mend fences with the Rastafarians. In fact, as a result of recent reforms, possession of cannabis has been decriminalized for less than 2 ounces or 56,6 grams. Rastas are completely free to use it for religious reasons. Jamaican citizens and even tourists can apply to use medical cannabis. And any Jamaican can grow five or fewer cannabis plants in their own home.

YouTube video: Cannabis and the Rastafari Movement


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