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Ganja exemption key to Rootz Fest - Cannabis Cup a collaboration with High Times

Published:Sunday | November 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Tarrus Riley in performance.
President of the Westmoreland Hemp and Ganja Farmers' Association Ras Iyah-V (left) and Eddie Wray during the launch of Rastafari Rootz Fest, held last Wednesday at Swept Away Resort, Negril.
The Mighty Diamonds.
Jah Bouks


During the Negril launch of Rastafari Rootz Fest at Swept Away resort on Wednesday night, the organisers clarified what they say are misconceptions by the general public that the festival's main focus is the High Times Magazine's Cannabis Cup competition.

Rootz Fest co-organiser Eddie Wray said the Cannabis Cup could be held in Jamaica only because High Times had sought a collaboration to stage it during the festival, which runs from November 12-15 at Long Bay Beach Park, Negril.

Rastafari Rootz Fest has been declared an 'exempt event' and granted a permit because it is being staged by Rasta In Inity, a Rastafari organisation. Under Section Eight of the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act 2015, the Minister of Justice may declare an event exempt from prosecution (for ganja) if he is satisfied that it is promoted or sponsored by a person of group of persons who are adherents of the Rastafarian faith and primarily for the purpose of the celebration or observance of Rastafari.

"High Times is huge; it is big. But so is Negril and the family in Negril," Wray said. "And I keep saying that the biggest thing about this is really the ganja exemption law that has been passed. That is an international step that puts us in a category that is very unique - a niche in the global empire - and that is where the strength is."

He outlined the order of events that led to the collaboration.

"We watched High Times, as big as they are, standing by waiting in the wings, waiting, could not make a move until that permit was granted for the event. And that permit was granted to Rastafari ... . The essence of Rastafari In Inity is to try and find a way how we, as Rastafari grass-roots people, can be a strong part of the cannabis industry as it unfolds itself," Wray said.

The festival gets underway on Thursday, November 12, with an opening ceremony featuring a special performance by Tosh 1 and a ganja-music sound system salute featuring Mutabaruka, Gabre Selassie of Rockers International, Gary I from Jah Love, and Negril's DJ Jessie.

Tarrus Riley, Bushman, Jah Bouks, and Talking Dreads will headline the concert set for Friday night, while Luciano, I-Wayne, The Mighty Diamonds, and Jah9 will lead Saturday night's showcase.

The daylight segments of the festival get underway at midday and will feature a Rastafarian Village, seminars, discussions, and exhibits. Rastafari Rootz Fest ends on Sunday with an awards ceremony for the High Times Cannabis Cup at 6 p.m.