Jesse Jendah—the Reggae artist who, in the summer of 1999, infamously offered a quarter pound of Westmoreland high-grade ganja to former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, to inspire him to pursue cannabis tourism, while the herb was still criminalized in Jamaica—has died.
Sound System duo Irish and Chin made the announcement about the passing of the firebrand artiste on their Instagram page on Monday.
“RIP singer Jesse Jendah, he passed away today. Some may remember him as a firebrand artiste who boldly offered then PM P.J. Patterson a quarter-pound of high-grade ganja, years before it was decriminalized. At the time he was condemned by many for this gesture, but he lived to see views & laws on this very substance change in Jamaica and around the world🙏🏽,” the duo noted.
A native of Clarendon, Jesse, who was a Glenmuir High School old boy, had been recording music since the 1980s.
He was who was known for songs such as Mark of the Beast, Reparation, Leonard Howell, Rothschild Crash Bank, Weed Free, Kween Of The Morning Star, Rasta Love and Sip Cup.
His newer releases were songs such as Brainist, which was a veneration of the “generation who are bright”, and Reparation Collection, which he had described as harsh.
Jesse was also a member of Philip ‘Fattis’ Burrell’s Xterminator camp back in the 1990s, along with Luciano and Sizzla.
Back in 1999, the Rude Boy Remember singer, during a meeting at Jamaica House for members of the entertainment industry, had offered Patterson, who was then Prime Minister, the parcel of Purple Skunk ganja, which he said was the world’s finest, and which he said he had driven all the way to Orange Hill in Westmoreland to source.
Patterson had reportedly politely declined the offering of ganja, but other Jamaicans had rebuked the artist, declaring him out-of-order and accused of disrespecting the head of the country’s government.
In April 2020, Jesse had recounted the incident with PJ Patterson to The Star tabloid, and said that the repercussions were even to that day, still psychologically draining and that he could still remember the “look of scorn” from his peers and the PM.
The singer had recounted that when he heard that Patterson wanted to have a meeting with entertainers, he drove to Westmoreland, where he got a pound of the Purple Skunk strain of ganja, which he said was the “best weed anywhere in the world, and brought it into town” with the aim of promoting cannabis tourism.
“We were invited to sit around a mahogany table. Muta was there, Tony Rebel, King Jammys, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and others. I had on a khaki suit with a jacket and I had wrapped up a quarter-pound of the purple skunk and put it in my pocket,” he told the publication.
Jesse had said that he indicated to the gathering that he wanted to speak, and “engaged Patterson in a conversation about the benefits of ganja tourism for health and recreational purposes, using places such as California, Holland and Sweden, where the laws were already relaxed, as examples”.
He had pointed out that while visiting The Netherlands in the mid-90s as part the Xterminator crew, the first place of interest the team was taken to, was a ganja cafe, where they “bought a joint for the equivalent of US$25″.
Jesse had also said that he had told Patterson that Hugo Chavez would not always be in power in Venezuela to give Jamaica oil at a good price, as a consequence, the country needed to look at ganja.
“All this while I was talking to P.J., I was trying to get the parcel of weed out my jacket pocket. But it looked like it swell, and it wouldn’t come out. So I was there trying to discreetly remove it, and it finally happened,” he had recalled.
“P.J. was shocked, and everybody in the room swear seh mi was going to get lock up now. The PM looked at me for what felt like a minute. Then King Jammys broke the tension when him ask a question. He said: ‘So, Sah, yuh not accepting the gift, Sah?’ P.J. looked at Jammys and then looked back at me and said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’” he added.
Following that incident Jesse had said that he “got the frowns and the disrespect” from members of the industry, but that to his astonishment, “15 years later, this same former Prime Minister Patterson at a Rebel Salute launch referred to ganja as Jamaica’s green gold. It’s good that he woke up to the truth”
Since marijuana was decriminalised in Jamaica in 2016, Jesse became a legal ganja farmer, and Patterson, interestingly, has been integral in a movement advocating the benefits of medical marijuana.
Jesse, during the interview, had said that he had received his ganja farming licence and that he had a “a large cultivation” and is looking at the possibility of expansion and was looking “forward to the day when he meets the former prime minister face to face for a real discourse on ganja”.