Letter: Fear of ganja

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Referring to the article [several] issues ago about CBD-infused products in the local market, I want to encourage the Xpress to keep reporting on this and related issues [“Hemp Futures: CBD-infused Food and Drinks Have Become Big Business in WNC, But a State FDA Crackdown May Complicate Matters,” Feb. 27]. For example, the actual value and potential unhealthiness of certain CBD products is under question among experts in the pro-cannabis field and should be investigated further.

I just spent three weeks on the island of Jamaica at the invitation of friends who live there. I spent one week at the beautiful ecovillage in the southeast called The Source Farm. Then I traveled with a Jamaican friend to points on the north and south coasts and through the interior to get from one coast to the other. We went by car along challenging, rutted roads, stopped here and there, and had a chance to observe local culture. We stayed with friends of my friend, some of whom have no interest in marijuana (but love to have a drink), some of whom treat it like a normal part of life.

The legal situation in Jamaica [can be found via this Wikipedia link: avl.mx/5td], but I didn’t see any concern among the smokers I met that they felt the need to watch out for law enforcement. …

There seemed to be no big deal about cannabis in Jamaica. My friend purchased two beautiful sticks of freshly dried ganja at an outdoor produce stand for less than three American dollars. When we went to (mostly outdoor) cafes and restaurants, there were “no smoking” signs here and there (which I assume referred to tobacco use) and occasionally someone at an outlying table would light a spliff — with no apparent condemnation.

I almost never smelled tobacco smoke, except where tourists converged in the landscape. On the street, I saw (mostly men) walking with fresh joints tucked behind their ears. In downtown Kingston, we visited an “epicurean cannabis” venue that educated, demonstrated and seemed to be selling at least the taste of high-quality buds to the public in their elegant showroom! This venue was in the middle of a public shopping center!

The point is that it seems to be no big deal in the everyday life of Jamaicans, except (as indicated in the Wiki site) that governments and entrepreneurs have financial interests in controlling what happens, but in Jamaica it’s still no big deal for the resident or the (obviously careful) tourist. Families and school officials still work to educate youth about the impact on brain development of early use of cannabis; I never saw a youth with a spliff.

Whether people use or care about the use of cannabis products for entertainment and enjoyment, it’s helpful to see how less frantic, media-controlled people live with its existence. All over Jamaica, you see the printed and graffiti “No Problem” slogan on signs, posters, walls and T-shirts. As far as most Americans are concerned, regarding cannabis, it probably applies here, too. Let’s just be more cautious about the manufactured products we’re being offered that might not be as good for us, let alone as harmless, as the homegrown kind.

— Arjuna da Silva
Black Mountain


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One thought on “Letter: Fear of ganja

  1. SpareChange

    No, I don’t fear ganja – but Jamaica is another matter. Visitors should exercise more caution than the writer suggests. Gang violence is such that much of the western part of the island has seen the Jamaican government declare a “state of emergency.” The murder rate has been one of the highest in the world. And the U.S. and Canadian governments have both issued travel advisories and warnings to their citizens traveling to Jamaica, warning them of the high incidences of gang violence, sexual assault and armed robbery. “Less frantic?” “No problem?” https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/jamaica-travel-advisory.html

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