“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth” – Diogenes
Education is crucial. Wherever you’re from, however much money you have, knowledge is what creates a fair and even society. It’s a lack of knowledge and a lack of education that can lead to misjudgements. People fear what they don’t understand. People hate what they don’t understand. People misuse what they don’t understand. Like any difficult-to-discuss topic, cannabis education is often thrown under the carpet and forgotten about.
Much like sex education, many nations leave it to be dealt with by itself and expect that not to lead to a potentially dangerous relationship with it. The truth is, educating the youth on topics like drugs and sex will lead to a better understanding of it and, hopefully, a better and more knowledgeable existence with it. This is what Jamaica seems to be doing with cannabis education. A country that has such a lustrous history with cannabis, has decided to take a step further and put cannabis education at the forefront with their new campaign: Good Ganja Sense. Is this a good idea? What does this entail? Is this a model for other nations to copy in the future? Let’s delve into it.
Jamaica has always been a cultural epicenter for cannabis, but legally, they have fallen behind many other countries. This ‘Good Ganja Sense’ campaign aims to change that through widespread education. Make sure to subscribe to The THC Weekly Newsletter for deals on legal cannabis products, as well as all the latest news and industry stories. Also save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
Jamaica & Cannabis
The relationship and history between Jamaica and cannabis is special. Cannabis was welcomed into the country in the mid 1800s by servants from India who came during the British rule of both Jamaica and India. The term ‘Ganja’ actually came from these Indian servants and is, in fact, an Indian term. The term ‘Ganja’ is now the most popular and common phrase to describe cannabis in Jamaica.
After the introduction of ganja into Jamaican lifestyle, next came Rastafarian culture. This was and still is a black religious consciousness movement. Created and found in Ethiopia, Ratarianism translates to mean ‘revered one’ or ‘respected one’. Cannabis is used in the religion’s ceremonies and meditations. Cannabis is an integral part of the religion. Leafly states:
Rastas gather to smoke the “holy herb” and discuss moral quandaries while passing the ganja clockwise around the circle. In times of war, the passing of the ganja is done counterclockwise to connect with “Jah,” the singular God that Rastas worship.
Rastafarians understand how cannabis can open the mind and lead to a deeper understanding and faith. They see it as the key to understanding.
It is believed that around 60-70% of Jamaicans use cannabis regularly. It is an integral part of society, perhaps more than any other nation. Only around 1% of Jamaica is Rastafarian, however, it’s not only religion that increased the popularity of ganja in Jamaica. In fact, Bob Marley was also an integral reason for this. Bob Marley was a Jamaican singer-songwriter who wrote incredible reggae music over the 70s. His band, Bob Marley and the Wailers, and their popularity spread the use of cannabis and rastafarianism around the world. They sold around 20 million records.
The 2015 Dangerous Drugs Act Amendment
Before 2015, ganja was completely illegal in Jamaica. Whilst it was still used often by Rastas and other people, the actual substance was not allowed and users could face fines and prosecutions. However, in 2015 the Dangerous Drug Act Amendment caused a change in Jamaica cannabis law. Under the new regulations, possession of 2 ounces or less of cannabis was no longer a criminal offence. However, it may result in a ticket, similar to a traffic ticket, which the possessor will have 30 days to pay. Furthermore, people who defined themselves as Rastafarians are now able to apply for authorisation to cultivate cannabis for religious reasons. It was a big step towards cannabis legalization, but people started to believe that drug education had not caught up with cannabis law. That is where Good Ganja Sense stepped in.
The Good Ganja Sense Campaign
In response to this new change of drug law, and a slow response in cannabis education, the National Health Service of Jamaica made it their goal to improve the education around ganja; both in its benefits and its potential risks.
What Actually Is It?
The Good Ganja Sense campaign is a website that contains a lot of information, written by professionals, that focuses on the world of cannabis. Its aim is to make people more aware, through well-written, evidence-based articles, about the truths of cannabis.
Who Are They?
The company and initiative is run by Michael Tucker, who is the director of NCDA. NCDA stands for the National Council on Drug Abuse, which is a public agency run by the Ministry of Health in Jamaica. Therefore, this is a government plan and government initiative. This is important to realise as not all governments around the world would have the confidence and belief to create something like this. The website states that because of the 2015 Amendment:
“This legal change has made it necessary for us to double our efforts to address the challenges of the culture of use and misuse of the ganja in Jamaica, especially among young people.”
When the State Minister, Juliet Cuthbert-flynn, was interviewed about the initiative, she said:
“We are in a digital world where people are finding information for themselves, and the information may be false or it very well may be true, depending on where they go…Ganja will no longer be underpinned by what has been passed down through oral traditions and old tales, but fact-based information that is now available at the fingertips. “
So, what do they actually want to do?
What do They Want to Do?
The Good Ganja Sense campaign contains slogans like ‘go with the science’ and ‘burn ganja myths’, which highlights exactly what they want to do. They want to separate the truth from the lies. With cannabis becoming so easily accessible to young people, they feel a duty to educate them better in the substance. The GGS prioritises four main objectives that they have.
- Have cannabis-based conversations with various different social groups
- Encourage people to look for real, true information and avoid myths
- Encourage the youth of Jamaica to discuss amongst themselves about these topics
- Encourage the youth to speak about personal development and how this may or may not be helped or hindered by cannabis
The GGS website mentions the importance of proper knowledge about medical cannabis. The truth is that cannabis is and can be used to treat a variety of medical problems – both mental and physical – and more people need to be aware of this.
Articles & Information
The Good Ganja Sense website promises to give well-informed information to those who they believe need to read it. They have a few different articles that have been fully researched and written in detail. Here are a list of these articles
- ‘Medical Treatment’
“Due to ѕосіеtаl pressures, mаrіjuаnа саn bе оnе of thе hardest substances to gіvе up. Thе іnсrеаѕіng ѕосіаl ассерtаnсе оf mаrіjuаnа contributes tо this in thе same wау it contributes to аlсоhоlісѕ not wanting to quit”
- ‘Decriminalization vs Legalization’
“A significant segment of the population does not know that there is a difference between decriminalization and legalization.”
- ‘NCDA Studies’
“The 2016 NHS study found that 28% of the population 12-65 years reported that they used ganja at some point in their lifetime”
The articles contain a lustrous amount of information that both proves cannabis’ range of benefits and its shortcomings. They are a perfect example of a balanced view on cannabis, which in this day and age, is perhaps hard to find – especially from the government.
My Thoughts on Good Ganja Sense
So, the question is, what does the Good Ganja Sense campaign actually mean? Well, living in the UK, and also being aware of the types of cannabis education that happens around the world, what Jamaica is doing seems to me to be something extremely special and unique. It’s one thing decriminalizing cannabis, but it’s another thing making it your priority to teach the new generation about it.
The world has learnt a great deal about cannabis in the last decade, and Jamaica has made it their aim to ensure their population knows as much as they can. Not only that, but they’re putting their trust in the people. Rather than laying down strict laws and not speaking about ganja, they’re allowing people to make up their own mind. That is a world I want to live in. A world where we are given the facts and the information, and we can then decide for ourselves whether cannabis is a substance we want or not. Good Ganja Sense is a revolutionary idea, and I hope the rest of the world follows suit.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.