Report: High Times World Cannabis Cup in Jamaica 2015
11/19/2015 by Christian Moll
RastafarI Rootz Fest Hosts High Times World Cannabis Cup 2015
Four days of steaming, reasoning and Reggae at Long Bay Beach Park in Negril, Jamaica
Usually during this time of the year, only neat amounts of tourists wander the snow-white sands of Long Bay Beach Park at the most northern part of Negril’s famous seven-mile beach. During the past weekend however, numerous hotel reservations were made and guests from all over the World came to Negril to visit an event, which is unmatched within the island’s history. It was a historic spectacle, being the first public display of Jamaica’s decriminalization of marijuana that came into effect earlier that year. The intensity in which the Jamaican government cooperated with the RastafarI community has been without precedent.
The RastafarI Rootz Fest, for the first time in history, hosted the High Times World Cannabis Cup and the High Times Jamaica Cannabis Cup. “There may have been small illegal weed festivals in previous years on the beaches of Negril,” said associate publisher of High Times, Rick Cusick, “but this one is definitely breaking new ground.” With the Rastafarians having their sacramental rights for ganja restored and recognized within the Jamaican law, the Rasta organization ‘RastafarI in I-nity’ teamed up with the U.S. based Marijuana magazine High Times and organized this four day event in order to celebrate Rastafarian culture and the long overdue decriminalization of Marijuana in Jamaica. Jamaica has been world renowned for its expert use of Marijuana for decades, but now that the legal market for the herb and its related products are growing constantly with the U.S. and Canada loosening their cannabis laws, the economic challenges and possibilities become increasingly important for Jamaica. Major economic and political issues were approached in several panel discussions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Andrew Gordon, head of the Cannabis Licensing Authority of the Jamaican Government, for example, stated during a panel discussion on the Future of Cannabis Research & Licensing in Jamaica on Saturday that he does not accept that Jamaica is unable to rise to the level of being competitive on an international level due to its size and current economic status. “I do not accept that small operations cannot operate within the requirements that are needed not just to enter a market but to make sure that you can command the highest possible price and protect your intellectual property at the same time.” The amount in which representatives of the Jamaican government from all sectors were present at the event was promising, but just as much inspired by the upcoming elections as they made bold advocacies for marijuana. Jamaica’s Justice Minister Mark Golding even supported the organizers of the RastafarI Rootz Fest with a special exemption in law that would protect event attendees from persecution. Therefore thanks to Mark Golding, Cannabis related companies from Jamaica, America and Canada were able to exhibit and advertise their products and contribute their strains to the competition without fearing intervention by the police. Other than the several different strains of weed; edibles, beauty products and smoking instruments were advertised and sold on one side of the stage. Trying some Ganja juice, Sean Paul, who mingled among the guests this afternoon, stated that he has always wanted Jamaica to make better use of the product it has and that he sees Cannabis as something that influences people in so many different ways." On the other side, Rastafarians from the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Bobo Shanti, The RastafarI Roots House, the Nyabinghi House and the House of Dread all gathered under the umbrella of ‘RastafarI in I-nity’, performed Rastafarian culture through chanting and reasoning together. I-tal food and Rasta-relevant literature and fashion were also offered for sale. Besides the cultural and educational program, the many panel discussions, seminars, workshops, yoga classes and RastafarI reasonings, Jamaica’s Rastafarian Reggae elite took center stage after sunset. On Friday, Tarrus Riley reminded the audience of the times when Rastas still got shot by police officers for holding “their likkle meds.” On board with Tarrus as usual, was the legendary Dean Fraser who fascinated a stoned audience with his unrivalled expertise on the saxophone. On Saturday empress Janine ‘Jah9’ Cunningham opened the stage and gave RastafarI the honor with her royal vibe and the divine sound of her voice. She opened with her anthem Steamers A Bubble with a demonstration of a steamer, a traditional smoking instrument popular among Rastafarians. To be more specific, it is a steaming instrument, similar to a vaporizer, but built form natural resources. Jah9 expressed her gratitude to be able to exercise this sacred ritual on stage. The stage show on Saturday was moderated by none other than Mutabaruka, Jamaica’s most renowned Rastafarian speaker and Dub-poet. I think he was definitely speaking for everyone present when he encouraged politicians to keep their promises to continue to work on a legalization of Marijuana in order to create a legal platform for the creation of resources. After Muta invited I-Wayne on stage, the latter started his show with his famous Song Can’t Satisfy Her and enjoyed several guest appearances during his performance. After a less spiritually inspired show by Mighty Diamonds, Luciano - Saturday’s headliner - entered the stage and brought Rastafarian royalty back to the center of attention. He opened his show with Give Praise to Rastafari and ended it with a majestic outro in praise of Emperor Haile Selassie I.
On Sunday, some rain showers cooled the vibes and prepared everyone for High Times’ signature competition. On iPads, participants voted for the best weed in the categories of Best Indica Flowers (Winner: A.P.M by Junior Gordon), Best Sativa Flowers (Winner: Orange Hill Lemon by Juna Johnson of Orange Hill, Westmoreland), Best Hash (Winner: Pineapple Blueberry Ice Hash) and Best New-style farming (Winner: True OG by Skinny & Andrew Williams). The winners of the various categories were announced after sunset by High Times’ Rick Cusnick and RastafarI Elder Ras Iah-V; the two main organizers of the event. The respective rankings can be viewed on HIGHTIMES.com, but so much shall be revealed: experts agree that Jamaicans grow the best weed! No other country in the world has a greater heritage and history related to the plant and even if some strains from abroad beat Jamaican ganja in terms of its THC and TBC rate, they can’t beat it in terms of attitude. It is the consciousness and awareness about Marijuana’s healing effects on body and mind, and the royalty and sacredness through which its consumption is approached by Rastafarians that make the most significant difference for any consumer of Cannabis worldwide.