Up until the 1950’s Herb smoking was not an identifying mark of the Rastas. Chevannes believes that the smoking of herb became formalised by the group, Youth Black Faith. This group founded in 1949 were active in attempts to reassess basic Rastafarian beliefs. There were public in their use and Chevannes says (1995 p. 84) that ‘by giving it ritual sanction they were in fact expressing their contempt for the state and society.’
Chevanne’s evidence is limited and cannot be taken as a definitive analysis. Availability, recreational use and peer group reinforcement would explain its continued use within the commune. Also of importance would the rebellion implicit in illegal activity and a visible symbol of freedom from the laws of ‘Babylon’
As the Rastafarian movement grew, the acceptance of use of the ‘Holy Herb’ appears to have grown with it. Since the 1960’s the use seems intrinsic and the reasons for its use unquestioned. Bob Marley said that the smoking of the herb was to ‘aid were meditations on de truth’ (White 1991 p. 25) Barrett quotes a Rastafarian as saying ‘It gives a good meditation: it is a door inside, when it is open, you see everything that is good (Barrett, 1977 p. 136)
Peter Clarke quotes a Rastafarian who says ‘Ganja is correctly used when Rastas wish to become more aware, more receptive, when one wants to assimilate something one has just heard or read or seen, and this is best done in groups, at a reasoning sessions. (Clarke, 1986, p 89)
These ‘reasoning sessions’ are also called ‘groundings’ or ‘grounation’ Such sessions have a historical link with the Rastafarian ‘Universal convention’ held in Kingston, Jamaica in March 1958. The nature of these sessions will depend upon many variables and a reasoning session held in the Jamaican Blue Mountains will be markedly different from one held in the tenements of large inner city. Nonetheless, the essential purpose is similar, that is ‘Members come together in informal social interactions to discuss spontaneously partially any issue concerning them personally and how this related to the movement’ Such discussions were aided the the insights offered by Ganga.
Of primary importance is the use of ganja to develop insights into God and the Universe. According to a leading Rastafarian:
Man basically is God but his insight can come to man only with the use of the herb. When you use the herb, you experience yourself with God. (Barrett, 1977, p. 217)
In recent times the ‘Holy Herb’ has been revealed to mainstream as the powerful medicinal and divinative plant that it is. Greed and Trickery have held this herb in contempt for nearly a century. It is always important to remember as the corporate takeover, modern breeding and dismantling of this plant are now in full swing that seed genetic purity and personal growing of this medicine are both essential for maximum individual benefit.