Toots performs in changing ganja times
Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert had a year of contrasts in 1966. As a member of The Maytals, he won the Festival Song competition with the enduring Bam Bam, but he was later imprisoned for marijuana. It has taken half a century, but today, Toots and the Maytals performs at the opening of the medicinal cannabis facility Kaya Herb House in Drax Hall, St Ann. Chances are 54-46, the post-incarceration track about the dehumanising effects of being reduced to an inmate number (although those were not Toots' actual prison digits), will be on the song list. Also performing are Jah9, Keznamdi, and Ky-Mani Marley.
Kaya Herb House is Jamaica's first legal medical cannabis dispensary. A release from the operators said that it will operate within the parameters of the Cannabis Licensing Authority, which facilitates for "the sale and use of marijuana in limited quantities and for specific reasons, namely, in accordance with the written recommendation or prescription of a registered medical practitioner, for consumption on the premises or for the provision of therapeutic services utilising ganja."
Jason Panton, co-operator of Kaya Herb House, told The Gleaner: "we have had longstanding relationships with these artistes. they have been advocates of herb globally and the concept of Kaya before it came to full fruition and have worked with us in one way or the other from time to time."
Toots has a special place, as Panton's business partner Balram Vaswani said that his experience is the "perfect example" of attitudes towards marijuana.
"We are pleased that the Jamaican government is now on the right side of cannabis. Far too many Jamaicans were victimised due to the laws that were previously in place. We are grateful for these steps forward and to be at the forefront," Vaswani said. Additionally, Vaswani said that Kaya is creating the Toots 54-46 strain of its product.
Today's official launch is not a one-off connection with entertainment. "we plan to have regular events at our space with various promotional partners - Dubwise Jamaica, Wright Image, and others. We want the Herb House to support and build a community of advocates and also serve as an entertainment hub," says Panton.