Legalize It! Jamaica’s Weed Decriminalization Explained By The Wailers Lyrics of Peter Tosh

A member of the Rastafarian movement waits for the unveiling of a statue of late reggae legend Bob Marley in Kingston February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy

A member of the Rastafarian movement waits for the unveiling of a statue of late reggae legend Bob Marley in Kingston February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy

“Legalize marijuana, right here in Jamaica”

The Jamaican legislature has approved a bill that would legalize marijuana for personal, religious, andmedicinal use. It’s the culmination of years of policymaking, that follows decriminalization in regional neighbors like Mexico, and in parts of the U.S. It’s also a response to the popular reality of Jamaica, where smoking ‘ganja’ is socially tolerated and up to 10% of the adult public consume the herb.

The arguments for “Legalizing it” haven’t changed that much since Jamaican reggae legend Peter Tosh was singing about it in the 1970s. Tosh wrote many of the most famous songs popularized by his one-time bandmate Bob Marley, whom he taught to play guitar. Many of those songs had to do with decriminalizing marijuana. Understand those songs, and this weeks’ announcement from the Jamaican government makes sense. (The lyrics in this post are from “Legalize it” and “Bush Doctor.”)

“There’ll be no more / Illegal humiliation / And no more police / Interrogation”

Carrying marijuana in public still merits a fine in Jamaica, but possession of under 2 ounces won’t count as a criminal offense. Citizens will be able to grow up to 5 plants and smoke freely in their homes. Rastafarians–who consider weed to be a holy sacrament–are granted a specific exemption. Finally, a framework has been put in place to afford tourists some smoking rights as well.

“It’s good for the flu, a good for asthma / Good for tuberculosis, even umara composis”

The new law opens avenues for regulated medicinal marijuana. We’re not quite sure what “umara composis” actually means, and we’re skeptical about the asthma, but here are a list of medicinal uses cited in a Jamaican government report.

Areas in which cannabis has been shown to have therapeutic use are:

  • Reducing nausea and vomiting
  • Stimulating appetite
  • Promoting weight gain
  • Diminishing high intraocular pressure from glaucoma

There are also reports of use of cannabis for:

  • Reduction of muscle spasticity from spinal cord injuries
  • Reduction of muscle spasticity and tremors in multiple sclerosis
  • Relief of migraine headaches
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain”

“Doctors smoke it, nurses smoke it / Judges smoke it, even the lawyer too”

That same government report found that marijuana consumption cut across economic, racial, and professional classes. Tosh’s argument was that every type of person was smoking marijuana, not just singers and musicians. “Most [traditional conservatives] accept that there are people who do this, just like there are people who drink,” said the Economist last summer.

“It can build up your failing economy”

Yes, Peter Tosh was concerned with the economy, not just getting high. In the short term, Jamaica will gain some sales revenue from a regulated market, and possibly integrate local ‘ganja’ into its important tourist market. In the long term, as more countries legalize marijuana sale, it could become a legal exporter. Jamaica’s climate is ideal for marijuana cultivation, where it’s been grown illegally on hillsides for a century or more.

Credit: By | Feb 25 2015

POSTED ON: April 16th, 2015

Categories: InternationalNews

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