DAVID I. MUIR/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
Jamaicans revel in the fact that we have trademark exports. In fact, I believe many other islands revel in being associated with some of these too. Reggae music, sprinters and jerk chicken are likely the most prominent, Marcus Garvey and dreadlocks, far less acknowledged by the mainstream.
One of the things we are most renowned for is the weed, the ganja, the herb. Even those of us who do not appreciate the stigma that’s been associated with it all this time, secretly feel a sort of pride of ownership when Jamaican marijuana is referred to.
But now that the US is moving toward legalization of sensi, the world will likely begin to imagine the manufacturer of the stuff looking less like a slim, muscular, middle aged Rasta man living in the mountains of the Real Rock, and more like a white man in an Armani suit. Nothing against white men in Armani suits. It’s just that as one writer reflected, America has been incarcerating young black men, destroying their lives for a meager spliff, while now a bunch of white men are poised to profit from becoming mass market traffickers.
Likewise in Jamaica, for decades, natives who have been fighting to have the herb legalized have been persecuted and vilified by the government and security forces. Now with a nod from the US, our herb farmers will likely be taken advantage of and grossly underpaid for their precious product, while our Armani wearing friends will reap the overwhelming rewards. There are some in Jamaica fighting to ensure that isn’t the case, that the Jamaican entrepreneurs whose suits look more like a baked in tan from several hard years’work are not overlooked for their payday. But we’ll keep an eye on the progress of this discussion to see how it pans out.
In the meantime, maybe those of us “foreign” Caribbean migrants in Armani suits, should look at how we can effectively exploit and simultaneously take care of our own. Now that we might legally, like Black Uhuru sang, have “a stalk of sensimilla growing in our backyard.”
Calibe Thompson is a personality, author and the producer of The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly. For your free preview of her 2015 collection of writings, Things I Probably Shouldn’t Say, visit www.calibe.net.