'nuff ganja no problems for visitors
by Rev. Leeroy James Campbell
On April 10th, 1991, my wife Jan and I returned to Vancouver after spending
eighteen glorious months in paradise. We had gone to Jamaica to continue
the research project we started in 1983 to study the effects of marijuana
on the human mind and body, and on the family and society at large.
Although we planned to return to Jamaica in as short a time as possible,
our dream did not become a reality until forty-four months later on
December 4th, 1994, when we arrived at Montego Bay Airport to spend two
months in Jamaica, mostly around Ocho Rios, St. Ann. We want to share this
beautiful experience with all of our friends and freedom activists.
Our long time friend Junior Haughton of King Fish Tours and Villa Rentals
picked us up at the airport and drove about a hundred kilometers to our
rental unit in Mammee Bay, about ten kilometers west of the resort town of
Ocho Rios on the north coast.
We unloaded our belongings and had Junior drop us off with our friend Rusty
in Falkland/Mansfield Heights. The Heights is a recently extended community
sitting on a hill overlooking Ocho Rios, where residents miraculously grow
plants on stone.
We arrived at Rusty’s place about eight p.m. on a Sunday, and everyone
around was in a state of absolute bliss. Someone handed one spliff to Jan
and another to me. This was our first toke of Jamaican ganja in forty-four
months, and I must tell you that after twenty-four hours of travelling this
was a delightfully refreshing and invigorating treat.
We enjoyed the spliffs and inquired about the availability and prices in
and around Ocho Rios. We learned that ganja is abundantly available and
that price is as variable as quality. For a quarter pound you can expect to
pay anywhere from
The vast spread in price certainly does not have anything to do with
quality. In Jamaica the free market economy means the seller extorts as
much as possible from the buyer. If the product is needed bad enough the
buyer will pay the asking price. So it is with ganja or anything else you
buy on the island. One way to beat the high prices charged to visitors is
to have a trusted native friend do your shopping.
If you are shopping for ganja, be very discreet and don’t buy on the
streets. It is a crime to possess, smoke, plant, or have anything to do
with ganja in Jamaica.
Jamaican ganja is such a threat to the United States economy that
personnel are permanently attached to the
island to ultimately wipe out the ganja industry. Ganja farmers in Jamaica
deserve a medal of courage for their resourcefulness. In the face of
insurmountable odds they have managed to keep the ganja growing industry
In 1980 the US Government introduced paraquat (Agent Orange, the
deadly defoliant used in Vietnam) to the Jamaican government to spray and
destroy ganja fields. The spraying continues to this day, even though
paraquat was banned in the United States in the late 70’s because of its
toxicity and damaging effects upon the human nervous system and reasoning
The Jamaican government, with help from the US, may have succeeded in
wiping out a few ganja fields, destroying the economic lifeline of a few
farmers and their families, but what is most frightening are the effects of
the deadly chemical paraquat on the humans, animals, plants, water supply,
and soil exposed to it.
Like the Canadian Le Dain Commission of the early 70’s that recommended
decriminalizing marijuana, so also a report commissioned by the Jamaican
government in 1972 recommended similar action. Like Canadian politicians,
Jamaicans too have to answer to Big Brother/United States. Only American
ganja must survive.
In Jamaica, it’s the Dangerous Drugs Law they get you on for possession of
ganja, although almost every Jamaican person on the island (including
doctors, judges, lawyers, and police officers), uses ganja in one form or
another, benefits from ganja in one form or another, and knows that ganja
is harmless and is actually the most valuable and beneficial plant on earth
for both man and animal.
For two months we continued our research project. We interviewed people who
have been smoking ganja for fifty or more years. Their youthfulness, vigor,
and wisdom were remarkable.
Offences against the Dangerous Drugs Law are punished by stiff fines and
long jail sentences. Although the ganja industry includes people from all
levels of society, only the poor are terrorized, have their possessions
seized, and are sent to the stinking hell-holes they call prisons.
Jamaican citizens live in absolute fear of the police and soldiers. There
are no major resistance or anti-prohibition movements on the island. People
don’t talk about ganja. It would appear as though everyone has a thorough
knowledge of the many medicinal and healing properties of the plant, but
few, very few, know of the many industrial and commercial products that can
be produced from the leaves, stalks, and roots of the ganja plant.
What is most outrageously immoral is the blindness and the indifference
expressed by politicians and big business. Jamaica is a small island-nation
unemployment, an income level at one twentieth that of the
United States, overwhelming poverty, crimes of violence because of paraquat
poisoning reaching epidemic proportions, children going without food, and a
host of other degrading social conditions. Yet the government continues to
criminalize a plant that could erase all the above negatives and create an
enormously beneficial multi-dimensional industry, employing several hundred
thousand people in clean, non-polluting, energy-saving, life-giving
One must wonder if profits from a police state, where government declares
war on its citizens, are so huge that the resultant human tragedies are
justified. In view of the apparent blinding conspiracy, right-thinking
people everywhere are asked to examine their own conscience with regard to
politicians, our political systems, commercial religion, our economic
system and prohibition: the Drug War.
Jamaica is a paradise prison for both rich and poor. The prison walls are
fear, corruption, uncontrolled violence, and denial, the manifestations of
which are seen, heard, and felt everywhere by everyone. Only love,
integrity, and compassion can heal the land and its people.
All things considered, the lush scenic beauty, the warmth and friendliness
of the country people, the fresh fruits and tasty dishes, the seductive
beaches, and the sweet smell of ganja filling the air after dark, all added
up to a very pleasant adventure.
The best way to travel with a local companion is by public transportation:
mini buses. You can also make the right connections and hire a car and
driver for a day trip from the coast to the interior. Finding ganja is not
a problem. In most villages, three or four suppliers are well known to
everyone except, of course, the police. You are likely to get the very best
quality from village suppliers as opposed to buying at beaches, hotels, or
In spite of the agonizing threat of going to prison, I was surprised at the
expression of freedom by some Jamaicans. They openly smoke a spliff on the
street and vocalize their contempt for the immoral law. In fact, it appears
that the law also enjoys smoking ganja. Early one evening we stopped at a
friend’s shop off the Ocho Rios main road, and were introduced to a fully
uniformed police officer sitting in a back room enjoying a spliff the size
of a cigar and wrapping a fist-full of ganja in a piece of newspaper which
he placed in the baton pouch of his pants.
In one village in St. Ann I went to the store to pick up a newspaper and
was invited by a group of young people to have breakfast under a big tree
in an open field about two hundred feet off the road. It was about 10am
when I arrived. The cook handed me a cup of corn meal porridge and a young
priest gave me a giant spliff. This was quite an experience: being with
about twenty-five young people at 10 o’clock on a weekday morning, enjoying
home grown, home cooked, healthy, nutritious food, listening to Psalms and
affirmations, and smoking ganja sitting under a shade tree on the side of a
hill overlooking the blue and silver ocean. Is this not joyful living?
One of our hosts and regular companions for our two month stay was Uncle
Wallo, a sixty-five year old who started smoking ganja when he was nine. He
said he worked in the cane fields for thirty-five years, and that ganja
gave him the strength and energy to work fourteen hour days in over thirty
degree temperature. Uncle Wallo has not had a sick day for all his sixty
five years, and his appearance and agility add up to a good health
maintenance program using ganja as a catalyst.
The number of Jamaicans, young and old, who smoke lots of ganja every day
is absolutely amazing. Members of the Rastafari faith who use ganja as a
religious sacrament have petitioned the government to recognize their
religious freedom but have not yet been able to secure a favourable
response. Prohibition does not deter them, even though the police often
disrupt their worship and haul them off to jail.
In churches, on the streets, and in their homes, Rastafarians are harassed,
brutalized, and terrorized by police because of their sacred herb. Yet they
continue with indomitable faith to embrace the wisdom and healing benefits
As I mentioned before, an anti-prohibitionist movement does not exist in
Jamaica, but some very influential voices are being raised in favour of
repealing the Jamaican Dangerous Drugs Law. Foremost among them is
Dr. Ronald G. Lampart, physician and researcher in St. Thomas (on the
eastern end of the island) who in the late 80’s headed a research team of
doctors, child psychologists, nurses, and scientists to determine the
effects of ganja on the foetus, the unborn child.
The almost seven year project was carried out by the universities of
Massachusetts, Miami, and the Carleton University in Ottawa. Funds were
provided by the US National Institute of Drug Abuse and the March of
Dimes. The study involved sixty pregnant women: thirty ganja smokers and
thirty non-ganja, non-cigarette, non-alcohol users. The results were
published in The Daily Gleaner, Jamaica’s leading newspaper, and were
The conclusion was drawn that smoking marijuana did not have a single
damaging effect on the unborn or mother. After a six year follow-up, all
thirty of the ganja babies were shown to be equivalent to the non-ganja
babies in all areas of childhood development: growth, motor skills,
intelligence, and comprehension.
Another champion of freedom is Dr. Barry Chevannes, a Professor at the
University of the West Indies. He regularly and publicly airs his views in
the press and wherever else he gets the opportunity to voice his opinion
and discontent against the immoral, racist, and oppressive Dangerous Drugs
Over a year ago, Friends International wrote a letter to the Honourable
P.J. Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica. We requested a thirty day
lifting of the ban against ganja use, so as to allow people from all over
the world to come together in a spirit of Love and Friendship and celebrate
Hempfest ’95 in April. The Prime Minister responded with insults,
puritanism, and threats. His letter is proof positive of a nation in total
denial, and demonstrates the stranglehold that the United States has on the
economy and culture of Central and South America, and the Caribbean
Strange as it may sound, Jamaican people are looking toward Canada to
repeal prohibition and just say “NO” to the lies and propaganda of the
United States. Then we will all watch the domino effect of the many falling
nations now being held hostage to US imperialism, cultural genocide, and