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Marijuana pressure from outside, within

Published:Thursday | December 31, 2015 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Tony Rebel

Tony Rebel reflects on effect before exemption

There was mirth at the launch of Rebel Salute 2016, held earlier this month at the Marriott Courtyard, New Kingston, when Justice Minister Mark Golding handed over a letter of marijuana exemption for the festival's next staging to Tony Rebel.

"What has been going on informally can now go on legitimately," Golding said to Rebel, to laughter from the persons who filled the room.

The exemption has been granted under the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act, 2015. A Ministry of Justice fact sheet on the amended act states: "Persons who are adherents of the Rastafarian faith, or Rastafarian organisations, may apply for an event promoted or sponsored by them to be declared an exempt event. In order to apply, the event must be primarily for the purpose of the celebration or observance of the Rastafarian faith.

"Where an event is declared exempt, persons who attend the event will not be liable to be arrested, detained or prosecuted for smoking ganja or possession of ganja at the event, or transporting ganja to the event, as long as they have complied with the amounts and conditions specified in the order declaring it an exempt event."

However, Rebel was not all humorous as he spoke about one of the effects of marijuana on Rebel Salute. "Over the years coming through, we do not get so much support because people say is pure Rasta and ganja," Rebel said. Apart from that lack of external support was the behaviour of some performers.

"You used to have some man come through and do them thing," Rebel said. The organisers told them they were on the same side, but "we cyaa take no beaten like Peter (Tosh). We have to fight it in a different way". The differing approaches caused differences, as the entertainers involved said that Rebel Salute was against them.

"Some sponsors did not want to sponsor us because of it," Rebel said.


His approach is one of compromise, advising people who wish to smoke marijuana to not offend anyone and "use the Bob Marley philosophy - excuse me while I light my spliff" and step aside. Plus, Rebel said, "don't persecute a man because him smoke weed. Ganja can make 25,000 products."

He said that marijuana must be legalised and will be, but advised a gradual approach.

"This evening when the minister give me the paper, we give thanks. We are going to use the exemption well," he said. So the Herb Curb will be at Rebel Salute 2016, at a section of the venue outside of where the bulk of the audience will gather. "We will not be there directing the people to smoke," Rebel said, noting the medicinal and therapeutic values of marijuana.

Before speaking about marijuana, Tony Rebel addressed Rebel Salute's long-standing theme, The Preservation of Reggae. He said that it is a combined effort. "We jus' a make sure our link strong in that chain," Rebel said. "Jamaica is the Mecca of reggae music ... . It is important to push what we have and let them know. We can't throw away our thing like that. We have to support and acknowledge that it is ours."

And he thanked the sponsors for their support.

Rebel Salute 2016 will be held on Friday, January 15, and Saturday, January 16, at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, Priory, St Ann. The first night, which coincides with Tony Rebel's birthday, which Rebel Salute celebrates, is titled Singers' Paradise. Mykal Rose, Sanchez, Luciano, LUST, Richie Spice, The Congos, The Heptones, Christopher Martin, Tony Gregory, Bugle, Gem Myers, and Tony Rebel.

On the following night, David 'Mavado' Brooks, Junior and Juju Reid, Half Pint, Queen Ifrica, I-Octane, Macka B, and Uprising Roots Band will be among the performers as the 23rd Rebel Salute ends.