Rastafari InInity/RootzFest, a leader in the Ganja Knowledge industry in Jamaica

Rasta Fest - high timesNegril, Jamaica, The opening ceremony, Friday, December 9, 2016, of the second staging of the annual Rastafari Rootzfest, got underway with Nyabinghi drumming and chants led by Ras Iyah V, founder & CEO Rastafari InInity and Master of Ceremonies, Barbara Blake Hannah, Author & Co-coordinator, Jamaica Film Academy/Reggae Film Festival. Mark Golding, former Minister of Justice, paved the way for Rastafari RootzFest to stage the first ganja-exempt festival held over three days. His opening remarks follows and is nothing short of impressive. “It is an honor to support the first Ganja-exempt event under Jamaica Ganja reformed laws… I was very much looking forward to being here again this year. This industry is [a] regulated lawful industry around Medical, Therapeutic and Industrial Hemp; it is on the cusp of greatness, but we still have work to do. We have to push out more effort. The framework is there and it is for those administering it to do so with the right heart and mind, to make it real, and make it work to deliver what it can for the people of this country. It is a billion dollar industry. We have the brand, music and Rastafari culture that projects it to the world in a righteous way.” He further said to Minister Chuck: “This thing that me drop you inna… I’m not sure what you had in mind, but continue to work with it, as it has great potential and some great people are here to work with. Learn from them, they have a lot to teach us…I will be happy to collaborate in any way.” Minister Chuck responded by saying “A lot of the credit for the opening up of the ganja industry was done by Mark Golding over the years and the new legislation just passed went further than I thought…I will do my very best so that it is balanced and all players can benefit and does not breach international treaties…In reference to transporting the ganja sacrament, Minister Chuck further stated that “I will give you all the exemptions needed, approved within hours.”

The seminar series commenced on opening day and set the stage for excellent topics and discussions on Cannabis. Its purpose, to empower the Rastafarian and grassroots communities to connect with economic opportunities in Jamaica and beyond. Topics such as: Legislative evolution of Ganja law and the rights of Rastafari, was merged into the opening presentation by the Justice Ministers. Cannabis Extracts presented by Gene West, Oaksterdam University and moderated by Yakub Grant. Innovation & Technology presented by panelists: Dr. Cliff Riley, Scientific Research Council & Dr Aseem Sappal, Provost & Dean of Faculty, Oaksterdam University and Moderated by Yakub Grant. Eleanor Crichton Hussey, Director Cannabis Licensing Authority, facilitated an informative CLA Workshop, in collaboration with Vicki Hanson is a PhD candidate in public policy at the Department of Government, University of the West Indies, Mona, and a ganja reform lobbyist. These and other seminars contributed to the Knowledge industry, which is part of the Ministry of Tourism’s five Linkages Networks. In fact, it is Rastafari InInity/RootzFest that is now leading the Ganja Knowledge industry in Jamaica, supported by its International Education Partner, Oaksterdam University. The University announced on Saturday, December 10th that it would be opening a branch in Negril in 2017.

The highly anticipated seminar entitled The Role of the Naturopath (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) in the emerging Jamaican Cannabis industry was promoted two weeks prior on News Talk 93 Radio (UWI), “Your Health Matters,” hosted weekly on Weds. by Dr Danovan Whyte. Sharon Parris-Chambers, Health & Wellness Consultant engaged panelists: Dr Diane Robertson, Errol Grant & Dr Danovan Whyte in a ‘stimulating high-level discussion,’ as stated by a participant. Dr Robertson is a doctorate of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), former pharmacist, and ethnomedicine researcher. As a phytotherapist, she recalled a time during the 1960s when Kingston Public Hospital had been buying tinctured cannabis from overseas to be used for excruciating pains, (dysmenorrhea or assistance in labor pains) as a ‘cocktail’. The tincture induced a state of euphoria and pain relief. She further drew attention to the healing benefits of Ganja, the “Wisdom weed”. Dr Robertson emphasized “the traditional healer has been the arm to provide us with the history of our culture for Health and Wellness. We have denigrated them down over time,” she said.

Dr Whyte, a naturopath, who engages his patients in prevention, self-care and research to find the root cause of dis-ease informed the audience “the natural healing practitioner engages nature to do everything concerning healing. We are energy beings, things around us is energy manifested. Plants is nature’s way in blessing us. If you can read the energy you will know what herbs to use. Everything has its own vibration. Nature has a way to recreate a balance. Healing takes place within a 100 yards where you are. Today, Cannabis is being used to treat epilepsy. I have found that cold pressed Cannabis oil when given to my Alzheimer’s patient for sublingual use, helped him regain his normal activities. This is one documented case…We have a wonderful product here and should use it.”

Errol Grant, Natural Health Consultant, said that he knew no other way but to use herbs in his treatment modalities. He inherited the natural intuitive skills taught by his parents. The inclusion of Ganja in his treatment modality, has helped his patients heal a litany of disorders, such as: endometriosis, E.coli in both males & females, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, for example. In his presentation he rejected the term “Alternative Medicine” and instead recommended the use of “traditional medicine”.

In conclusion, Rastafari InInity has achieved its goal during the course of the festival by staging over 15 educational seminars to inform and empower Jamaicans in the medicinal use of ganja and industrial hemp. The Seminar on the Natural & Complementary Medicine practitioner in the Cannabis industry displayed a wealth of knowledge between its panelists, which is enough to fill an encyclopedia on medicinal herbs. According to CLA director Eleanor Crichton Hussey, the advocacy of Drs Robertson, Whyte and Tony Vendryes, as well as, their expertise will be called on to help guide the Cannabis Licensing Authority in fulfilling its mandate to establish and regulate Jamaica’s legal ganja and hemp industry.


We are following the ganja by watching the smoke. Where there is smoke there must be fire.

We want ganja to be fired up for our economy to grow.

Just free up the herb!

Commentary by Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie, Senior International Correspondent & photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.

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