August 6 marks the 55th anniversary of Jamaica breaking free from the United Kingdom’s colonial rule. To honor the occasion, we are proud to bring you MERRY JANE Presents Jamaica Week. All week leading up to Jamaican Independence Day, MERRY JANE is celebrating the Jamaican people and the many great things that the island has given to the world — from music, dance, and food, to the Rastafarian religion, cannabis culture, and good vibes.
Although cannabis is closely associated with Jamaica, it’s not because the laws of the land have favored the plant. Back in colonial days, the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1948 made it illegal to sell, cultivate, transport, possess, or use cannabis — a slap in the face to the nation’s Rastafarian community, for whom the consumption of ganja is sacramental. Finally, in 2015, the Houses of Parliament amended the DDA to loosen the laws and allow Rastas to practice their religion without persecution.
One of the people responsible for this legislative shift in Jamaica was Raymond Pryce, a Member of Parliament from the People’s National Party, who served as an MP from 2012–2016. As part of Jamaica Week, Pryce sat down with MERRY JANE to explain the history of cannabis in Jamaica, and why he fought for decriminalization and legalization of the plant while in Parliament.