Weed, Bob Marley, and Liberalism

Satyakam Ray

Disclaimer- The author doesn’t espouse the use of drugs at all, and it’s just opinionated writing.

Smoke’a de ganja when I am with friends,

We gonna smoke’a de ganja until the very end.

Whoo-oo Ganja Ganja

Whoo-oo Ganja Gun

The famous Bob Marley song “Ganja Gun” lyrics might have influenced the administrators of countries like Canada, Georgia, South Africa, and Uruguay when they decided to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Many states in the US, Australia, and the Netherlands have adopted the use of Psychoactive drugs on their premises in a limited dose. Around 45-50 countries worldwide have already permitted weed use medically.

Weed, Bob Marley, and his work: 

Robert Nesta Marley, aka Bob Marley, was an outspoken supporter of the legalization of weed. The best-selling reggae artist of all time, Bob Marley, began to use cannabis when he converted to the Rastafari faith from Catholicism in 1966. He was arrested in 1968 after being caught with cannabis but continued to use marijuana following his religious beliefs. Of his marijuana usage, he said, “When you smoke herb, herb reveals itself to you. All the wickedness you do, the herb reveals itself to yourself and your conscience; show yourself clearly because the herb makes you meditate. Are only a natural thing, and it grows like a tree.”

The United Nations Peace Medal of the Third World was given to Bob Marley at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City on Thursday, June 15, 1978. It symbolized the respect that Bob had garnered from the whole African people for his defiant approach to dealing directly with the world’s ills through music.

The concept of Rastafari is a way of life that condones the smoking of herbs and the growing of locks. Marley saw marijuana usage as a vital factor in spiritual growth and a way to philosophize and become wiser.

Author Dave Thompson in his book Reggae and Caribbean Music wrote Bob Marley believed in freedom; and the fighting which is necessitated, and dressed the part on an early album sleeve; whose heroes were James Brown and Muhammad Ali; whose God was Ras Tafari and whose sacrament was marijuana.

The immortal single from his album live! “No woman, no cry” made Marley a household name worldwide. 

Based on the concept of equality and liberalism, the song alludes to telling a woman not to cry. That outside of Jamaica has misunderstood the lyrics as “if there is no woman, there is no reason to cry” or having secret feelings towards women. Bob Marley is regarded as a forthright advocate of peace and a liberal viewpoint as one of the all-time great songwriters globally and a champion of freedom.

The concept of liberalism:  

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. Espousing free markets, free trade, limited government, individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Liberalism has been the beacon of hope for open-minded rational beings worldwide.

The French Revolution of 1789 paved the way to spread liberalism worldwide as a last resort to counter the atrocities of fascism, monarchy, hereditary privilege, traditional conservatism, and state religion. In Victorian Britain, it was used to critique the political establishment, appealing to science and reason on behalf of the people. Liberals have advocated gender and racial equality in their drive to promote civil rights and a global civil rights movement. Liberals sought and established a constitutional order that prized essential individual freedoms, such as freedom of speech and freedom of association; an independent judiciary and public trial by jury; and the abolition of aristocratic privileges.

The connection between weed and liberalism: 

A new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health found that young people living in liberal states in the US consume more marijuana.

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”- Jim Morrison

A more “liberal” form of liberalism is the hippie movement of the 1960s. Its fundamental ethos includes harmony with nature, communal living, artistic experimentation, particularly in music, and the widespread use of recreational drugs. The flower children of the maverick movement participated in the summer of love in 1967 to celebrate the new way of living. Many were suspicious of the government, rejected consumerist values, and opposed the Vietnam War. A few were interested in politics; others were concerned more with art or spiritual and meditative practices.

Relevance in Present Context:

Leaders worldwide are showing signs of autocracy even though they have been elected as democratic representatives. The last president of the US was not conceding defeat and tried to cling to the office by any means. Similarly, the religious extremities in almost all religions have taken the front seat to drive the world into a crazy and chaotic war-mongering conundrum. White supremacy, racism, and jingoism have engulfed the world of politics. Millions of people have been denied their fundamental rights due to fascist regimes working in so-called democracies.

At this critical juncture in the history of humanity, a liberal viewpoint is much needed. Whether in freedom of expression or religious/ racial equality, a pluralistic mindset to congregate everybody despite their different opinions on a single platform is the need of the hour—no need to use psychedelic drugs, though, as it is very detrimental to health.

The concepts of equality, equanimity and equity among all are of paramount importance.

Precisely what Bob Marley espoused during his days when he constructed an album of songs about oppression, rebellion, religion, and the urgency of African unity, even if many do not support him entirely on the controversial use of recreational marijuana, still he will be regarded as a champion of freedom and liberalism for eternity.

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