With February being the month we celebrate Bob Marley’s birthday – it got me thinking about his legacy and how his name and image are so easily associated with marijuana. Bob Marley and the Jamaican flag are two of the most iconic symbols in the cannabis community – most of the time portrayed together. College students hang posters of Bob in their dorm room; festivals celebrate his legacy with banners of him smoking a joint, and reggae fans praise him in true Rastafarian fashion by wearing traditional garments and smoking “ganja.”
Everyone knows about Bob Marley’s musical influence and his love for marijuana, but does anyone know the real reason why Bob smoked weed?
When Bob Marley sparked up a joint, it was for a much greater purpose than just relaxing and letting go of stress – for Bob, it was religious. Marley practiced the Rastafarian religion after converting from Christianity in the 1960s. If you know the timeline of his musical influence, this religious switch happened before Bob Marley, and the Wailers achieved their international fame for making amazing reggae music. However, his conversion from Christianity was not taken alone – thousands of his fellow Jamaicans also converted to practice Rastafarianism, creating a Rasta movement that cited Bob as one of the leaders.
This decision is what began to put Bob Marley in the spotlight as a religious influencer to his people and country. The connection between Rastafarianism and marijuana is that the religion views weed as a spiritual tool. The purpose of marijuana for Rastafarians is to assist in meditation and open further doors to potentially understand the universe.
The most surprising fact is that true ‘Rastas’ do not believe in using marijuana for recreational purposes
That’s right, all those images you know of Bob smoking and looking like he’s lighting up for the fun of it – is really Bob practicing religious rituals (in his eyes). Marley made this clear himself – he viewed himself as a holy person that was able to be in touch with art and poetry through the medium of ganja because, according to his religion, that was the purpose it gave to his people.
So, the next time “No Woman, No Cry” comes on or you see that infamous Bob Marley poster – remember his view on marijuana was much more than just a plant that freed his mind. Marijuana to Bob was religious, meaningful and the reason why he was able to write and create the timeless music we still love today.
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