Smoking ganja isn't just a recreational activity. It's a righteously stoned ritual.
"The more you accept herb is the more you accept Rastafari," the patron saint of tokers, Bob Marley, explained in a TV interview a few years before his death from cancer in Miami at the tragically young age of 36. "Herb is the healing of the nation... Herb is a plant. Herbs are good for every-ting."
And though it's still against the law to smoke a marijuana cigarette in the Sunshine State, the Magic City remains home to most of Marley's offspring, as well as the Nine Mile Music Festival, a full day dedicated to Bob's memory and the virtues of the herb.
For the fest's 2013 edition, brothers Stephen, Julian, and Damian Marley and rappers Future and 2 Chainz have joined the fight for decriminalization. Blaze it! Legalize the weed! All aboard the ganja bus!
Stephen "Raggamuffin" Marley
How does one know he is destined to be a high priest of the sweet leaf? Well, it's gotta be pretty obvious when your birthday is 4/20. Take Stephen Robert Nesta Marley (born April 20, 1972), the fourth child and second son of Bob. Like nearly every member of the Marley fam, Raggamuffin has always unabashedly preached the gospel of pot. And like nearly every member of the Marley fam, he lives in Miami. So inevitably, he was gonna get busted on a pot charge in our backwater state. That shit be fated.
Julian "Ju Ju Royal" Marley
In February 2002, Tallahassee cops cuffed Stephen and his brother Julian for possession of "less than 20 grams" -- i.e., four marijuana cigarettes -- in Julian's jacket and three under the passenger seat. The Raggamuffin reaction: "What am I doing behind these iron bars/Never robbed nor killed, never done no one harm," Stephen sang on "Iron Bars," a 2007 song about the experience. "Lock me up, for what? A little sinsemilla... We a go break down this prison wall and get the fuck out of here... Blaze it!" Or as Ju Ju Royal sagely shrugged in a 2009 interview with Cannabis Culture: "The laws are being run by an old colonial system."
Exactly like his Rasta brethren, spaced-out ringtone rapper Nayvadius "Future" Wilburn fully supports the legalization of that sweet and sticky ish. When the citizens of the Centennial State approved Amendment 64, which allows the "personal use and regulation of marijuana" (including the right to "grow up to three immature and three mature cannabis plants privately in a locked space" and "giving gifts up to one ounce to other citizens 21 years of age or older"), Future was outspokenly stoked, tweeting, "Hey shit, I don't live in Colorado, but when I get there for a show we can smoke... They need to bring [this law] to Atlanta." And Florida. And the United States of America. And the rest of Planet Earth.
Another famous black man who occasionally tokes, another arrest by some po-po hoping to get their faces on the gossip blogs. Just a couple of weeks ago, Tauheed "2 Chainz" Epps became the latest reggae or rap star to get busted by rural law enforcement officers. Cruising with six homies on his way to a college gig in Maryland, Mr. Chainz was stopped by state police. They found some weed. He was arrested. (None of the car's other occupants was taken into custody.) The charges were possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. But once at the jailhouse, the cops asked the rapper for a fan photo. He was incredulous. "Locked me up and then wanted a picture," Chainz captioned the picture posted on his Instagram account. "SMH."
Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley
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According to a recent FBI report, American law enforcement slaps the cuffs on a (usually peaceful) marijuana user every 42 seconds. That's 750,000 per year at a taxpayer cost of $1.5 billion. Just further proof that U.S. pot policy has failed. And the blessed Damian Marley agrees. He's criticized the cops. He's protested for legal weed, hosting smoke-outs in Cali. And he's even given this generation of weedheads its rallying cry: "All aboard, and jump on the Ganja Bus... Rollin' up, roll like we thunderous," Jr. Gong chants. "We're smokin' like a genie/The skunky and the greenie."
Oh yeah, praise Jah.
Nine Mile Music Festival. With Stephen Marley, Damian Marley, Julian Marley, 2 Chainz, Future, and others. Saturday, March 2. Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Dr., Key Biscayne. The festival begins at 2 p.m., and tickets cost $52.83 to $173.74 plus fees via tickets.completeticketsolutions.com. Four canned goods are also required for admission. Call 305-655-5579, or visit 9milemusicfestival.com.