Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Denroy Morgan blasts hypocritical lawmakers on 4/20

Published:Saturday | April 20, 2019 | 12:11 AMYasmine Peru/Gleaner Writer
Denroy Morgan
Denroy Morgan

Legendary reggae singer and patriarch of the Morgan (Heritage) family, Denroy Morgan, will definitely be lighting up his sacramental chalice at 4:20 p.m. today as he celebrates what he calls good over evil.

“It is good that we have a day when we can celebrate the goodness of the blessed herb, coming from the oppression of evil men who told us that the herb was bad,” Morgan told The Gleaner. He added, “Four-twenty is a day that I really embrace as a symbol of freedom for the herb. But, of course, I celebrate the herb every day.”

While excited about how far marijuana has come, Morgan is still cautious and even a bit cynical at the events now unfolding. “Freeloaders are jumping on the herb now in terms of what it has to offer from the business and financial side, but we who have used it as a sacrament for years have always known the value of the herb,” he said.

PERSECUTION

He pointed out that he, like thousands of others, has been persecuted and prosecuted for the use and possession of marijuana and that now, the same lawmakers who have used their powers to repress the weed want to get involved in the lucrative business of ganja farming. “Some lawmakers now want to be the planter, and that is hypocritical,” he blasted. “Lawmakers need to apologise to the persons who were imprisoned and beaten for the possession of a ganja spliff,” demanded the man who made international headlines in September 2011, when he was caught with 20 pounds of marijuana by police in the Bronx, New York.

The UK’s Daily Mail, for example, stated in its headline: ‘Reggae star Denroy Morgan arrested after 350-pounds of marijuana discovered.’ The World News stated: ‘Reggae star Denroy Morgan arrested in 310-pound weed bust’, while Billboard Magazine reported, ‘Denroy Morgan, reggae singer, arrested with 25 pounds of pot in car.’

Morgan, then 66, was arrested after he was spotted leaving a building with what appeared to be a brick of weed by a narcotics officer who was in the area on a different job. When he was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt, officers detected the smell of marijuana, and upon investigation, the weed was found in the trunk. He was charged with possession of and intent to distribute marijuana and for not wearing a seat belt. He was held on US$8,000 bond.

Best known for his 1982 hit single I’ll Do Anything for You, Denroy Morgan was the first reggae artiste signed to RCA Records, and his musical legacy lives on through his children in Morgan Heritage. He told The Gleaner that, when he was pulled over by the police, he declared himself as the owner of the marijuana and told them exactly why he had it in his possession.

“I declared my intended use of it as a sacrament for me and my Rastafari brethren. I told them that there was a shortage, and I managed to get hold of this 20 pounds, so I took it.”

Morgan’s legal team argued his case successfully, and in a landmark ruling – the first of that kind in the state of New York – he was charged US$25 and given 90 days’ probation. Shortly after, the legislation was changed to allow the possession of marijuana under a certain amount.

“I saw that victory as not just for me but for all of us. So let’s light up as we celebrate 4/20,” the elder statesman of reggae music said.