Is Smoking Cannabis a Part of the Rastafarian Religion?

When we say Rasta, you may instantly think of marijuana. This isn’t uncommon amongst many who perceive the two to go hand in hand, but how factual is it that marijuana and the Rastafarian religion are intertwined?

Amongst the dozens of stigmas attached to marijuana, there are some that are so deep-seated into the culture that it has skewed perceptions to unrecognizable levels. One such stereotype is that of the Rastafarian religion, and today we want to try and get to the bottom of this stereotype.

So, if you want to learn more about the history of the Rastafarian religion and marijuana, stick around!

Rastafarianism: What is it?

Rastafarianism is an Abrahamic religion that is centered on Jamaican culture and dates only as far back as the 1930s. While not an old religion, it is one that has indeed become well known the world over, but not entirely for the right reasons.

The Rastafarian religion was developed in the 1930s when Haile Selassie I was coronated and became king of Ethiopia. The people of the Rastafarian religion believe Selassie to be Jah (God), and that he will return to Africa to save the black community who are still living in colonies and exile.

Despite the infancy of the religion, there are a lot of popular culture figures that have propelled it into the spotlight, which has led to its worldwide recognizable status. Names such as Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer who used music to tell the stories of their religion and beliefs have become huge figures, and during the 1970s shot Rastafarianism into popularity.

When compared to other religions such as Christianity, Rasta beliefs are not worlds apart; however it is estimated that there are currently only approximately one million Rastafarians in the world now.

Rastafarians and Religion

There is no denying that the Rastafarian religion has been widely entrenched in controversy over the years, with many other faiths and outside individuals dubbing the movement as merely a way to get high and be lazy under the mask of religion.

Believed to be heavily influenced by the Back To Africa movement and British colonialism, the Rasta religion is often referred to as a movement for the rights of African people. Over the years this has evolved to be more about spiritualism, nature, and being closer to God (Jah).

Much like many other stereotypes of cannabis use, Rastafaris are deemed to be lazy, scruffy, drug-using ‘hippies’, a stereotype which over time has been somewhat damaging to them as a group.

Despite a pretty politically fraught history, Rastafarians believe profoundly in a natural way of living, disregarding things like wealth and fame and categorizing that way of life as ‘Babylon.’ It is the case that many Rastafarians prefer to use spiritual guidance rather than to follow any specific practices.

These things, combined with their cultural practices such as their choice of hairstyle and clothing, has added to the incorrect belief that Rastafarianism is not a ‘real’ religion at all.

Rastafarians and Marijuana: Do the Two Go Hand in Hand?

There are many rumors around how marijuana became part of the Rastafarian way of life in the first place, but the truth is nobody can confirm this for sure.

Some suggest that marijuana was used in a bid to enable freedom from the establishment as a reaction to the treatment of black members of society.

Other rumors suggest that the use of marijuana is incredibly religious, with many Rastafarians looking to marijuana as being the Tree of Life that is referenced in the Bible. These, amongst other extracts from the Bible’s scriptures which are believed to be about marijuana, are all cases for the argument that Rastafarians use marijuana for spiritual purposes alone.

Rastas have used marijuana in their spiritual gatherings, known as Reasoning sessions, since the beginning of the religion as a way to become closer to God and to produce a heightened spiritual state. Many Rastafarians do not consume marijuana, referred to as the Holy Herb, at any other time outside of this religious get together.

Final Thoughts: Is Marijuana Part of the Rastafarian Religion?

In short, the answer would be yes – marijuana, or The Holy Herb, is undoubtedly a substantial part of the Rasta religion. Those who follow the Rastafarian religion believe marijuana to be a natural gift from God, and a way to become closer to Him on a spiritual level.

However, marijuana is not the only part of the Rasta culture; and despite its significant role in religious aspects, it is not a big part of day-to-day life, despite popular misconceptions.

We would love to hear what you think in the comments below; this is a pretty fascinating topic!

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