For decades marijuana supporters have been fighting to legalize marijuana. From nation to nation, artists and activists alike have brought awareness to the plant and its many benefits. However, music has remained one of the most influential platforms to advocate for the legalization of the sweet herb. Reggae anthems such as Bob Marley’s “Kaya”, John Holt’s “Police and Helicopter” and of course Peter Tosh’s “Legalize it” aimed to change the negative connotation of the herb. On 4/20, Grammy-nominated Reggae artist Jah Cure and Grammy-winning artist Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley teamed up to let their voices be heard for the new generation by premiering their new single ‘Marijuana’. The song, ‘Marijuana’ produced and written by Jah Cure and Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley references the incredible euphoria of cannabis in a melodic metaphorical serenade. In the song, both Jah Cure and Damian embraces its conscious use of ‘Marijuana’ by delivering informative and intellectual lyrics.
Thought to give its users a euphoric experience by Rastafarians and hippies alike, smoking marijuana still has a negative stereotype in the media. Today, in the hopes of opposing the marijuana stigma, new advocates like Jah Cure have stepped in. Jah Cure has taken that stereotype and flipped its narrative in his lyrics. In the song “Marijuana”, he sings, “Bob Marley know it all along…And Willie knew it all along”. Bob Marley, a reggae music legend and activist, is known not only for his influential music but also for being an iconic symbol in the cannabis community. Many have misunderstood his reasons for using marijuana, thinking that he used to smoke for fun. However, according to HighThere.com, it is said that “Marley…viewed himself as a holy person that was able to be in touch with art and poetry through the medium of ganja because according to his religion, that was the purpose it gave to his people.” To many Rasta’s, the purpose of marijuana is not to simply “get high”, but to assist in meditation and open further doors to potentially understand the universe.
Another prominent activist that Jah Cure mentions in his song is Willie Nelson, a legendary country artist who has supported both the consumption and legalization of marijuana for years. He has even started his own recreational cannabis company called Willie’s Reserve where he offers a number of different strains of cannabis. This is his self-proclaimed way of giving back to the world for all of the weed it has provided him with.
Although the stigma of the use of cannabis has been felt worldwide, many lawmakers in foreign countries such as Canada, The Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland have legalized its use. While the United States has not been ready to approve the sale and usage of cannabis, they have legalized the use of “recreational marijuana”. Earlier this year, the Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, The U.S Virgin Islands and even Trinidad and Tobago have all considered making the use of recreational marijuana legal.
There has also been widespread misinformation about the benefits of the marijuana herb due to the media’s misrepresentation. Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley tries to shed light on the positive aspects of the use of cannabis in the same song, “Marijuana”, he says, “The seeds can replace your petroleum”. Damian not only speaks about the holistic practice of marijuana but the “Green Energy” benefit of the seed as well. The seed of the marijuana plant can be used as an alternative biofuel to petroleum. According to ministryofhemp.com, “Using hemp as the main source of ethanol, instead of food crops like wheat & corn has clear advantages. Not using food crops as a fuel source allows more efficiency in food production, and hemp can be grown in lower quality conditions, unlike corn or wheat.”
Not only does the use of cannabis support the Green Energy movement, but it has also changed the medicine industry. A natural chemical in the plant called Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, often abbreviated as ‘THC’, is a chemical secreted by the glands of the marijuana plant. According to Honestmarijuana.com, “When THC is released in the brain, the psychoactive compound can relief from pain, nausea, and vomiting. It can also act as a muscle relaxant, a mood enhancer, an appetite stimulator, etc.”
In the song, Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley also makes a point to say “..CBD is my medicine” which is another chemical found in the plant. It is used in alternative medicines because it syncs well with our bodies’ natural processes. CBD can also provide relief for chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation, depression as well as many other conditions.
Substances like alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription pills are proven to have negative effects on the body, such as organ dysfunctions, failure, and death. Nonetheless, the numbers of deaths caused by these substances dwarfs the number of deaths contributed to marijuana. According to Rehabs.com, marijuana had the least amount of deaths between 1999-2014. The majority of those documented deaths that involved marijuana were mixed with some other substances like alcohol, an opioid, cocaine, etc.
During the bridge, Jah Cure sings, “So many legal drugs are killing us..Illness they’re giving us..Yet still they criticize the marijuana…”. According to aapublications.com, “We know that any exposure to opioid drugs can lead to future addiction. It’s become clear that the use of prescription, opioid-containing medicines to treat cough and cold in children comes with serious risks that don’t justify their use in this vulnerable population…In addition to addiction, codeine and hydrocodone have been linked to difficulty breathing, overdose, and death.”
Jah Cure and Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley’s motivation for their song was to bring awareness to the herb and its many uses.
Amazingly, these virtuoso artists were able to educate their listeners on the benefits of cannabis and have taken control of the narrative. With the support of millennial activists everywhere, there is a hope to see a drastic change in the cannabis community within the next ten (10) years.