Rastas don’t smoke marijuana. The late great Peter Tosh will tell you that they don’t smoke marijuana, either. “Marijuana is a girl from Cuba…Ganja…is a bird from Australia, I smoke HERB,” Tosh once said.
Make no mistake the importance of language and its usage in Rastafari culture because it’s super important. Rastas, including Tosh think that any term for marijuana other than HERB is heresy as derogatory names like “marijuana” are used by those in power to incriminate and discriminate against those who are not. Sure, we’re talkin’ semantics here, but it’s actually a lot deeper. In fact, so deep…Rastas assert their original African languages were ripped from them when they were taken into captivity as part of the slave trade and that English is an imposed, abusive, colonial language they reject. To get around this “shitstem” Rastas have created a modified vocabulary and dialect known as “Iyaric“, to not only take back language but push it forward and reject modern western society, often referred to as “Babylon”, which Rastas see as entirely corrupt. So it’s for these reasons that Rastas smoke herb “the healing of the nation” and nothing else.
Smoking weed, for Rastas, is a spiritual act, man. And many dreadlock Rastas will tell ya that herb is often said to be essential for spiritual practice, “for it will sting in the hearts of those that promote and perform evil and wrongs.” Weed is considered a sacrament that cleanses the body, the mind and the soul. It expands consciousness, facilitates peace, and brings Rastas closer to God. And, many Rastas will tell you that burning “the healing of the nation”, a phraseology adapted from Revelation 22:2 is a part of African culture they’ve been trying to reclaim since weed first hit the shores of Central and South Africa back in the 8th century when it was brought by Arab traders.
Rastas believe they should not ever be persecuted for smoking herb and suggest instead they should receive a religious exemption as smoking herb is a very important religious observance that opens and expands the mind and aids in meditation. But, mind expansion is something that’s always threatened the establishment and the ideas proposed upon the world by Western culture.
Genesis 1:11 “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.”
Genesis 1:29 “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb-bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”
Genesis 3:18 “… thou shalt eat the herb of the field.”
Psalms 104:14 “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man.”
Proverbs 15:17 “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.”
Revelation 22:2 ” the river of life proceeded to flow from the throne of God, and on either side of the bank there was the tree of life, and the leaf from that tree is for the healing of the nations”
According to some Rastas the etymology of the word “cannabis” and similar terms in all the languages of the Near East may be traced to the Hebrew “qaneh bosm” which is one of the herbs that God commanded that Moses dude to include in his preparation of sacred anointing perfume in Exodus 30:23. The term also appears in Isaiah 43:24; Jeremiah 6:20; Ezekiel 27:19; and Song of Songs 4:14. And, many patriarchs of Abrahamic religions…guys like Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses have all done some “burning incense before the Lord”.
Despite all that shit, in 1998, US Attorney General Janet Reno gave a legal opinion that “Rastafari do not have the religious right to smoke ganjah in violation of the United States’ drug laws.” Unfortunately, the same shit goes in the United Kingdom, where, in a Court of Appeal case it was held that the “UK’s prohibition on cannabis use did not contravene the right to freedom of religion conferred under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”
So it’s no wonder Rastas don’t smoke marijuana. And, it’s no wonder many believe the fact that herb STILL remains illegal in most parts of the world is outright, undisputed…specific evidence of the CONTINUED persecution of Rastas and the marijuana culture at large.