KINGSTON, Jamaica – “Excuse me while I light my spliff. Good God I gotta take a lift. From reality I just can’t drift, That’s why I’m staying with this riff.”
It was fitting that head of the Bob Marley Group of Companies, Marie Bruce, and Brand Manager Debbie Bissoon, made a bold attempt to perform the opening verse from Bob Marley’s Easy Skanking to signal the organization’s endorsement of Rastafari Rootzfest Presents High Times 2015 Jamaican World Cannabis Cup.
The event is scheduled for Long Bay Beach Park in Negril from today until Sunday.
It was officially launched two weeks ago at Bob Marley Museum in St. Andrew. It will be the first ganja event to be sanctioned by the Jamaican government since the amendment of the Dangerous Drug Act in April.
The launch took place six months before the 50th anniversary of the historic state visit of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I in April 1966. The Ethiopian monarch is the Rastafarian spiritual leader. Ganja has long been used as a religious sacrament by its members who have been criminalized, denigrated and marginalized for its use.
“Where there is faith, there is hope. Once you got faith in Jah, he will give you strength. This battle is a long, drawn-out struggle for Rasta but the victory will be sweet,” said roots reggae singer Luciano who is billed to perform on the Rastafari Rootzfest Cannabis Cup. He performed New Day and Marley’s Redemption Song at the launch.
The entertainment package also includes Bushman, Jah Bouks, Jah9, I-Wayne, Tarrus Riley and the Mighty Diamonds.
The opening ceremony will have a special Peter Tosh Tribute featuring the singer’s youngest child Tosh I, as well as Ganja Music Sound System Salute featuring selectors Gabre Selassie of Rockers International, Gary I from Jah Love, Mutabaruka from Blakk Muzik, DJ Jesse and special guest artist Fred Locks.
There are also daily seminars focusing on ganja-growing techniques and investment strategies relating to the plant. According to organizer Ras Iyah V, Rastafari Rootzfest is intended to be an annual festival showcasing the Rastafarian lifestyle, from food to meditation, conscious music to natural fashion and beauty.
“To see the type of tribulations that Rasta go through as a youth coming up, it was my desire to fight it … I want to give thanks to the Minister of Justice Mark Golding and (technology minister) Phillip Paulwell.”
Golding, who piloted the ganja reform initiative in Parliament, appealed for responsible use of the weed.
The brainchild of High Times Magazine, Cannabis Cup is arguably the best-known showcase for ganja in the world. First held in 1988, it has musical educational and commercial components. Attendees must be at least 18 years old.