Ras Iyah V, one of the 2017 Peter Tosh Legalize It Awardees, is urging the Jamaican government to establish a Ganja Research Centre in honor of the late Reggae Legend and cannabis legalization advocate.
In an interview with DancehallMag, Ras Iyah V said that such a facility is long overdue, not only because Peter Tosh was the world’s biggest Ganja legalization advocate, but because Jamaica scientists Dr Manley West and Professor Albert Lockhart have the distinction of being the ones who pioneered cannabis research and were the first in the world to develop pharmaceuticals from the herb.
“What I have been saying to the government, is that based on what Peter went through, fi herb, and the way he was agitating the legalization and decriminalization – remember he sang ‘legalise it and I will advertise it’. So based on what he went through, and knowing where herb reach, internationally, I have been telling the government that they should move towards the establishment of a Peter Tosh Ganja Research Centre,” Ras Iyah V said.
Peter Tosh had received a battering in 1978 while in the custody of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), after he was arrested for smoking a spliff. During his detention at the Half-Way Tree lock-up, the Mama Africa singer had suffered a broken arm while using it as a shield to protect his head from the wayward police officers.
In detailing the events that led to his abuse at the hands of the police, Peter had said that he was in the vicinity of the Aquarius Club, getting ready for rehearsals, when he suddenly felt someone snatch the extinguished ganja spliff he was holding, from his hand.
The Mystic Man had said that he immediately snatched the spliff back from the person, following which a struggle ensued, where he was hit on the arms, the head, and on the torso.
According to Peter, when he was being taken to the Half-Way-Tree lock-up, he had not yet sustained any serious injuries.
However, the police’s version was different. They claimed that upon accosting Peter to apprehend him, they had identified themselves, but said he had resisted and rained several blows on the constable, and demanded to know: “A dis you a carry me a jail for police bwoy”
Jamaica’s prowess in cannabis research, coupled with Peter’s arrest and beating and his consistent and imperious calls through his music for the legalisation of Ganja, even on the global stage, Ras Iyah V said, merits a research centre to be established in the Reggae icon’s name.
Tosh was strident in his quest for the legalization of ganja, which for many decades was vilified and even placed on the world list of dangerous drugs.
The Bush Doctor artist had recorded two major cannabis-venerating songs: Legalize It, the Ganja anthem from his 1976 album of the same name, and Nah Go a Jail. The former, in which Tosh sings about the health benefits of the herb, was written as a response to his ongoing victimisation by the Jamaican police, and also as a political statement calling for the legalisation of Ganja.
In Nah Go a Jail, he predicted the legalization of Ganja, as well as envisioned the herb receiving the blessing of the Constabulary, Government Ministers, Ministers of Religion, and Priests.
“Suh, based on Peter’s activities, over the years, I think the type of recognition that should be given to him has not been given to him. And to establish a Ganja Research centre in honour of Peter Tosh to me, that is something that the government should do, one: to at least acknowledge a son of the soil, that what he was saying and what he was doing was not stupidness, knowing where scientific research in Ganja is concerned now, but also to look at how Ganja as a product could have been utilized economically over the years,” Ras Iyah V said.
“The government should legalise, decriminalise the herb long time and ensure the establishment of an industry. Not like what was established in 2015, but of we just go back into the 1970s, 1980s remember Dr Lockhart and Professor Manley West they created Cannasol and Asthmasol out of herb when it was totally wholly and solely illegal,” Ras Iyah V added.
Ras Iyah V contended that Jamaica, which is seen as the world’s Ganja capital, was lagging far behind countries like Israel and Canada, which do not have the trendsetting record that the island has.
“So if they were able to do that imagine what could have been done over these years; if the government, both PNP and JLP had the vision of how Ganja could be utilised, even from a medical point of view, to bring tourists into Jamaica, but to help advance Jamaica economically,” the Rastafarian elder continued.
“Israel could be considered the leading country where research in Ganja is concerned. America is doing a lot; Canada is doing a lot, so I don’t see why Jamaica, a country that is known more than any one of these countries where Ganja is concerned – because ganja and Rasta is what Jamaica is known for, not just sun and sea, but Reggae music, Rastafari and Ganja. People come to Jamaica for that,” he added.