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Reggae and Ganja: Do They Have to Go Hand in Hand

  • Written by  Lily McCann

Reggae hits like Peter Tosh's 'Legalise it,' among many others, give the impression that reggae music has a certain affiliation with marijuana, and that’s because it most certainly does. For many years reggae musicians have sung lyrics about the herb, and many advocate its use. However, it’s not directly from the music that this advocacy comes from; instead it’s the intrinsically linked Rastarfarian religion that holds such a close relation to ganja. So, in these modern days where Reggae stills gains musical fans, does it influence people to smoke the herb? The answer is by no means clear. However, with so many musicians across the world who aren’t Rastafarian adopting reggae as a musical form, reggaes links to cannabis could be loosening up a bit.

 

Rastafarians and the Reefer

Reggae music stemmed from the Rastafarian religion and culture, and the Rastafarian culture has close links to marijuana. In fact, ganja is taken as a sacrament to Jah, with the belief that by being high you are closer to Jah, and it opens your mind to receiving His words. So the fact that many Rastarfarian reggae musicians sing about the herd comes as no surprise. Whether this has spurred on listeners to smoke marijuana is debatable, but it is hard to argue against the fact that some Reggae music has helped to publicize it.

A Warning about Fake Pot

There is no denying that the cultivation of legal marijuana and all the accessories that go with it is a giant industry, which turns over a hell of a lot of money. Pipes, bongs, rolling papers, grinders, and a plethora of other items flood the market for the discerning smoker. However, for those of you that do decide to partake, staying safe has to be a priority.

Due to the illegality of cannabis in some cases, an industry concentrating its efforts on producing fake pot has sprung up. This legal herb is essentially a harmless herb, but then it is sprayed with not-so-harmless chemicals which are intended to imitate THC, the active ingredient in marijuana which makes you feels high. Names like K2 and Spice are used to market the products, and many users genuinely believe them to be safe. The problem is that counterfeit drug dangers are hard to predict, for a variety of reasons. Often just one small element of the original outlawed substance is changed, so that a very similar effect occurs when used, but this one small change could have serious consequences on the human body. Researchers and medical professional simply don’t know what the short or long term effects of these new recreational synthetic drugs, and will only find out by people effectively being guinea pigs and testing the stuff. When they visit the doctors complaining about the fake pot they smoked, then conclusions can begin to be drawn. At least real marijuana has had decades of research conducted on it, and the dangers are easy to find out about.

That said, not everybody who listens to reggae uses cannabis, and even people who love the music steer clear of smoking weed. Everyone has a different reason for wanting to smoke or not smoke marijuana, and listening to reggae shouldn’t really play a part in that.

Reggae Music without the Weed

So what about the thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of people that love listening to reggae music, love creating reggae music, love being a part of the reggae music scene, in places across the entire planet, who don’t want cannabis to be part of their experience? Well, that could be difficult, but it’s by no means impossible. Sure, you may get fed up with being at shows and having people light up beside you, or coming home with your clothes stinking of pot, but everyone should respect each other’s choices.

That said, there is so much more to reggae music than cannabis, and perhaps that’s way so many people find something they love about it. So many different issues are touched on, and in a way that promotes a peaceful solution. Songs talk about the need for equality, about how people need to be true to themselves, and about having faith to get you through bad times. These points may sound like the sorts of things a priest would say giving a sermon, but that’s because reggae music can have a power similar to religion, and you don’t need to smoke cannabis to recognize this.

 

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