Holy Smoke...


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Rastafarianism and Marijuana
Holy Smoke - The Truth Behind Cannabis and Religion

Ben Hughes
Apr 24, 2009

Many people seems to associate cannabis use with Rastafarians but few understand why. In fact, the use of cannabis is a small part of the theology and hardly representative of Jamaicans, Africans or Rastafarians.

Rastafari at a Glance
Rastafari is a young religion which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as King of Ethiopia in 1930. Rastafarians believe Haile Selassie is God and that he will one day return members of the black community, living in exile as the result of colonisation and the slave trade, to Africa.

It developed from the ideas of Marcus Garvey, a political activist who wanted to improve the status of fellow blacks. Partly for this reason, the lion symbol of the religion; it represents Haile Selassie I, who is referred to as the 'Conquering Lion of Judah'. Rastafarians' dreadlocks represent the lion's mane.

Cannabis Use in Rastafari
For many young people, the word ‘Rastafarian’ often seems to be synonymous with smoking cannabis and many disaffected youths wanting to study religion seem determined that it is an, if not the, essential part of the theology.

Use of cannabis is a religious ceremonial practice that some Rastafarians use to worship and meditate. The group will join together to smoke it and discuss truth Cannabis is attributed to have the ability to make the truth more clear. They also think of the use of this herb as a way to become closer to nature, with some considering it to be the Tree of Life from the Bible.

Leonard Barrett states that Rastafarians first began using Marijuana in reaction to the treatment of blacks in society; it became a reactionary device to enable freedom from the establishment. (Leonard Barrett, The Rastafarians, The Dreadlocks of Jamaica p. 129), to heighten feelings of community and to produce visions of a religious and calming nature.

The Marijuana Myth
Italy’s Supreme Court took the bold step in July 2008 to allow cannabis use by Rastafarians in Italy, classing it as a religious act. The Independent Online even recognised that the ruling was “a European first”.

However, in a great disappointment to many people, marijuana is not compulsory for Rastafarians. Many use it as a regular part of their worship because it symbolises the burning of the corruption from their heart and because they believe it unleashes greater spiritual awareness of the self, the universe and of God; but it isn’t essential.

WikiAnswers.com, Why do Rastafarians smoke marijuana? (2009)

BBC Religion and Ethics online, Rastafari

The Independent Online, ‘Rastas can use cannabis, Italian court rules,’ 12 July 2008

Ref: http://religiousintolerance.suite101.com/article.cfm/rastafarianism_and_marijuana


Well-known member
I recently read a blurb on the internet stating that it was Haile Selassie who introduced the "Lambsbread(th)" strain to Jamaica when he visited in 04/21/1966. I found that fascinating, but couldn't find any compelling evidence to that. All I can find is that cannabis was likely was introduced in the late 1800's by Indian immigrants.

Fun fact, the reason Rastafarians consider Selassie the second coming messiah, has to do with his heritage. His bloodline goes back to King Solomon who married queen Shiba of Ethiopia. I purchased a book in Jamaica back in the 80's or 90's called the Kebra Nagast (pdf can be found on the web) , meaning the glory of kings, which laid out the history of how the Holy bloodline came about. I've always been interested in religions and tried to get to the core of the Rasta movement, there was no internet back then, but that turned out to be key info. But I don't think there is much evidence he was a consumer other than a picture of him watering a plant.

Although today I stumbled upon the fact that an altar in Jewish temple in Arad, which would have been around during the time of Solomon, had been analyzed and traces of Frankincense (my favorite) and cannabis had been found. So there certainly is a connection between Haile Selassie (born as Ras Tafari Makonnen) to cannabis. Although the fact that Jamaicans had access to it, has to do with it's introduction in the late 1800's, not from his visit in 1964 (on 421 :oops:).

Please feel free to correct me or add any more relevant information, I love this stuff.


Well-known member
6 degrees

Selassie -> Garvey -> Marley -> “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” -> Rastafari -> I and I

What do you mean by 6 degrees? *edit* I understand now, 6 degrees of separation

It was Garvey who got it started by announcing the coming of holy Selassie
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Site Moderator
Staff member
Of course.

"Whom will you touch in life? Who will touch you? They say that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person through a chain of six people, which means that no one is a stranger... for long."

Six degrees of separation. We are all connected.



Well-known member
A description I once read said the Indian migrants brought it with them to the Carribean and when the African slaves tried it they found it made the labors they were forced to endure more bearable, so it took hold and grew from there.


Well-known member
Hey guys
Nice share Shanti
The Rastafarian religion is very interesting
I find through early Catholic upbringing that I have a scewed understanding of religion.
It seems that the Catholic and simular religions have infiltrated these belief systems and have twisted the meanings towards their type of model
Myself I don't really subscribe to any religions.
However I do have my thoughts regarding Cannabis
I truely believe the Cannabis plant is an extremely powerful spirit plant
Similar to McKenna's stoned ape theory, I believe she is here to guide mankind
While the Mushrooms and DMT are recognised as powerful spirit guides...I believe Cannabis is the one
Why has she been so suppressed for so long?
Why has she had so much focus aimed towards prohibiting her use?
If we look at what she,s capable of, we soon see that she is truly the magical plant, here to guide and benefit us in every facet of life
Just my thoughts anyway...thanks for the share
🙏 Sensient
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Tom bolenate

MNS Hall of Fame
Don't be naïve...Selassie was a dictator of the worst kind who was feeding his babies lions pets with fresh meat While Kids were dying of starvation Just in front of his door's palace.
Historical facts are much différent than the rewritten romantic story.
Rastafari philosophie is plain bullshit and is now only a marketing trick to sell stuffs to naïves young westerners.
Sorry to break the myth.
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Well-known member
Don't be naïve...Selassie was a dictator of the worst kind who was feeding his babies lions pets with fresh meat While Kids were dying of starvation Just in front of his door's palace.
Historical facts are much différent than the rewritten romantic story.
Rastafari philosophie is plain bullshit and is now only a marketing trick to sell stuffs to naïves young westerners.
Sorry to break the myth.
Surely there are elements of Rastafarian philosophy that are still relevant. i.e Ital foods, being part of a brotherhood that doesn't trust the system, using ganja as a healing dare I say sacrament. Without trying to argue from a point of authority I have done my fair share of reading on this subject and much of my time was spent in libraries reading historical works. I do agree Rastafarianism has been on the whole romanticized and commercialized in the West though. Rasta's were very much looked down upon as outcasts of Jamaican society, a result of rejecting the status quo. Not sure young kids with dreadlocks really understand that message as they play with their gameboys and phones etc, alot of them just seem to be rebelling in their teenage years to piss their parents off.
To me there are still valuable lessons to be learnt from this philosophy, even if it is a little bit mumbo jumbo at times..
The stuff about Selassie I completely agree with but in those times the rasta's may not really have had a way of knowing this. The book you got that information from probably wasn't written yet.
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