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by OKCanna Shop Published on March 2, 2021

Marijuana in Rastafarianism

The use of Marijuana has received more attention for its recreational and medicinal purposes. However, people need to be mindful of different application in religious ceremonies. Some Native American tribes and Rastafarianism, which is an Abrahamic religion do not see cannabis as a recreational drug but a way of aiding meditation, gaining wisdom and as a sacrament. Rastafarians incorporated the use of Marijuana in religious ceremonies in the 1800s aided by East Indians who were left into the island after the slavery work ended (Williams, 2017). Moreover, it happened that Jamaica has the ideal climate for the growth of Marijuana.

Perhaps, the most prominent Rastafarian is Bob Marley, who did not use the drug for recreational purposes and never saw it as a recreational drug. He viewed the drug as a holy rite. Through the drug, he saw himself as a sacred person as all Rastafarians do and have a belief that Marijuana provided a spiritual opening that allowed them to explore creativity.

While the Rastafarians use Marijuana for religious purposes, many recreational users of this drug risk abuse and addiction. For example, in India, Marijuana is used for recreational purpose and religious ceremonies, while the abuse profile in the country is at 17%. This is according to the United Nations on Drugs and Crime report in 2016 (Williams, 2017). However, the use of Marijuana for religious purposes has lower chances of abuse.

Rastafarianism is a religion that has been associated with the use of Marijuana for a long time. The use of this drug is Rastafarianism is used for ritual purposes that are known worldwide. If any person has undergone exposure of the cannabis culture, there is a high prominence of the drug with Rastafari iconography. Rastafarianism originated from Jamaica and was popularized around the world through reggae music while converts like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were famous advocates. It all began with humble beginnings but spread around the world within a short while. Up to date, the most significant numbers of Rastafarians live in Ethiopia, Jamaica, South Africa, Botswana, United States and the United Kingdom. On the global scale, there are more than one million followers of the Rastafarian movement, which is okay as the religion was founded in the 1930s.

Although Rastafarianism religious faith is less than one century old, it is known all around the world. It is different from other religions for being caricatured as it lets its members smoke weed. Nevertheless, the truth has been nuanced, even when it comes to the classification of Rastafari. On the other hand, religion does not have different forms of organized religion, such as formal leadership and clergy. Nonetheless, spirituality plays a massive role in Afrocentric Interpretation of some Christian religions for the promotion of marijuana use.

While Marijuana stands as a sacred drug to the Rastafarians, it was brought to Jamaica in the 1800s by Indians from the east who were brought to the island after slavery work was over. However, it was made illegal within a short while (Price, 2018). Yet, the Jamaican environment had an excellent climate that was perfect for the growth of Marijuana. Before it was adopted as a meditation drug, Marijuana was used as a wisdom drug. Today, it is used as part of religious rite and a means of getting closer to the inner spiritual creation and God. It is also considered a herb of life. It is consumed through eating and smoking as part of the religious ritual (Price, 2018). When the Rastafarians gathering is large, a large smoking pipe is passed around. This is considered like passing the holy communion cup compared to the Christian denominations.

The Framework of Rastafarian Religion

When one mentions the word Rasta, one would quickly think of Marijuana. However, this is not a common notion for people who believe both terms go hand in hand. Nevertheless, how factual is it that Marijuana and Rastafarian religion are interconnected? Amongst different stigmas that are associated with Marijuana, there are skewed perceptions that have been formed at different levels. 

While Rastafarianism was started in 1930, it has become popular both for the right or the wrong reasons for the use of Marijuana (Prendergast, 2019). Besides, there is no denying that this religion has been entrenched in controversy for many years, while many other faiths claim that religion is a way to get lazy and high in the name of religion. Believed to be more influenced by British colonialism and African movements, the Rastafarianism religion is the movement of African people fighting for their rights. However, this has evolved more into nature, spiritualism and drawing closer to God.

Much like the stigma associated with the use of cannabis, Rastafarians are deemed drug-using hippies, lazy, scruffy, which are stereotypes that are damaging to them as a religion. Irrespective of their uptight political story, Rastafarians have more belief in a natural way and disregard other issues such as fame and wealth. As such, many Rastafarians prefer the use of spiritual guidance other than following any stipulated guidelines.

Even though Marijuana is considered part of Rastafarian ways, no one can confirm the truth of its use. However, some suggest that Marijuana was used as a way of enabling freedom of the black member's society. On the other hand, people believe that the use of Marijuana is incredibly religious since Marijuana is believed to be the tree of life that is referenced in the bible. With these plants, they can use Marijuana for spiritual gatherings for meditation. However, the drug is not consumed at any other time other than religious times.

Psychological, Social, Political and Interdependent Web of Relationships

Psychologically, the Rastafarian religion believes that marijuana aids in the nourishment of the brain. As such, they can develop creativity using this drug. Socially, Marijuana brings them together. This is because Marijuana is only used when there are religious functions and nowhere apart from that. As such, it improves the social well being of the community. For a long time, Rastafarians have brooded a political aspect of Haile Selassie being their chief leader. Through this, they can develop values based on what Haile Selassie did and bring up their leaders through the same doctrines (Price, 2018). Economically, there has been a growing economic impact of Marijuana for Rastafarians as cannabis farmers will now benefit from the exploding global market of Marijuana. As such, the Rastafarianism community is going to have significant influence around the world as people will use cannabis-based on their doctrines as well as other recreational purposes (Price, 2018).

 

References

Prendergast, H. (2019). Rastafarianism and Western Medicine. In Diversity and Inclusion in Quality Patient Care (pp. 125-131). Springer, Cham.

Price, C. (2018). An Ethnographic Life Narrative Strategy for Studying Race, Identity, and Acts of Political Significance: Black Racial Identity Theory and the Rastafari of Jamaica. In Political Sentiments and Social Movements (pp. 237-263). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Williams, Q. (2017). Bark, smoke and pray multilingual Rastafarian-herb sellers in a busy subway. Social Semiotics27(4), 474-494.

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