Southern Sunday: Weekend in Jamaica

CANNABIS CULTURE – This week’s column comes to you from very far south … of Cuba.

I’m typing it with my thumbs on my phone because my laptop has decided that the letter ‘i’ is unnecessary here in Jamaica, where every other conversation involves a Rasta man saying “I ‘n’ I”.

It was my third day in Negril. I made the trip to cover the HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup, which was held in conjunction with the Rastafari Rootzfest.

On this day, however, I’d taken the day off to enjoy the white sand beaches and drink some rum punch. I sauntered in to Alfred’s Beach Palace when I saw a familiar face on an athletic body.

“Rob?” I asked. He gave the look that somebody used to being recognized in show business gives to people like me. I let him know where I knew him. “I’m ‘Radical’ Russ; I interviewed you for my show with NORML…”

“‘Radical’ Russ?” exclaimed the other guy who was sitting with pro wrestler Rob Van Dam. “It’s me, Steve!”

I couldn’t believe it. It was Pimpin’ Steve, a guy I knew from my hometown Portland, Oregon, that I haven’t seen in years. I didn’t recognize him because he wasn’t rocking the crisp white hip-hop ‘pimpin’ look I’d remembered him for all those years ago. Now, he was just another dude at the beach.

Rob and Steve invited me to sit and we enjoyed a fruit plate and more rum punch. I twisted up a spliff of Jamaica ganja.

“It’s hard to roll it, huh?” Rob noted.

“Yeah, I gotta say, after all these years I finally get to Jamaica, and I’m disappointed in the weed,” I said. “Makes me miss Oregon bud.”

“They don’t cure it here,” Steve mentioned. “They just pick it right out of the field, mon. Seeds and all.”

“Yeah, seeds,” I chuckled, “I felt like I was back in Idaho, pruning Mexican brick weed. Now I know why you see those documentaries of Rastas smoking all day. You’d have to to get a buzz.”

Jamaica has recently decriminalized ganja officially, but it seemed ubiquitous enough that I couldn’t imagine it being too frowned upon. Open sales of ganja were happening almost everywhere I went.

Sent from my Tricorder – please excuse brevity, typos, and confounding auto-corrects.

Russ Belville
Russ Belville

Russ Belville is a long-time cannabis activist, host of "The Russ Belville Show" radio program and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture.