Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Ganja Extravaganja launch party at UWI tomorrow

Published:Friday | November 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Richie Spice

Tomorrow evening at the Students Union, University of the West Indies, Mona, there will be a party to preview an event which takes place on the campus next February. And while music will also be involved in the Ganja Extravaganja from February 3-4, 2017, as it will be at tomorrow's launch party, there is a purpose that goes beyond a cultural expression which has long supported marijuana use.

The Extravaganja is being put on by Decriminalisation Herb Advocacy & Public Awareness (DHAPA), in association with the Rastafari Studies Centre at the UWI, with Inner City Dub also involved in the staging. The slated performers for tomorrow night are Leroy Sibbles, Sizzla, Richie Spice, Bugle, Tyrikal, Icient-Cy Mau and the Mau Mau Warriors, Veza Rebel, Steppa and Fyah George, among others.

Selectors for the evening are Ilawi from Jah Love, playing on Armageddon International, Ricky Trooper on Sound Trooper and DJ Beenie.

Dr Jahlani Niaah, who coordinates the centre as well as the Centre for Ganja and Cannabis Research at the university, said selecting the performers was not difficult. "All the persons are directly related to the DHAPA (an outgrowth of the Rastafari operated Chalice Circle). It is an informal network of herb enthusiasts," Niaah said.

At tomorrow's launch party the gates open at 5 p.m. and the official launch is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the party continuing after that.

As for ganja and the university, Niaah said, "Remember that we are a public institution, given to public education in particular. Our present principal (Professor Archibald McDonald) has been supportive of greater visibility with the university on this matter, and the public-education aspect especially. The party is being held at the Students' Union deliberately in order to tie in the students' learning objectives. That is important. The union is under student operation and control. They were on board from early and quite supportive."

With the process of exploiting marijuana commercially taking shape in Jamaica, there is the strong possibility of the smaller players being left behind. "There is knowledge and concern that the most intimate aspect of the industry - the small players who not only grow but make available the end product - these microbusinesses do not necessarily have any framework or organisation to speak for them. The major players who have been speaking are people with relatively bigger organisations," Niaah said.

An exemption is being sought for the Ganja Extravaganja next year, and Niaah said at tomorrow's launch party, "I do not expect any problem with the law."