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Ganja as it is (was) traditionally grown and used in Jamaica


Ganja first arrived in Jamaica in the mid 1800s via the Indentured labourers brought from the Indian subcontinent.

When Slavery was abolished in 1834 everyone left the plantations. There were no workers to cut the cane. At the time India and environs and portions of South East Asia were controlled by the British who quickly filled the needs by bringing over ship loads of those generically called 'Indians' to Jamaica.

These 'Indians' (some came from what is now Pakistan, Java, Burma) brought with them the seeds of a plant they called 'Ganja'.

Ganja is a word in Sanskrit for 'hemp'. The hemp plant is 'ganja'. There is more than one kind of hemp, for example the kind that make ropes which has a lower THC (the stuff that gets you high) than that people smoke.

The 'Indians' used ganja, and it wasn't long before everyone else did as well.

The Use of Ganja

Most people think of ganja as an alternative to pills, liquor, or whatever one wants to use to 'get high'. But ganja is also used as a medicine, so it is not simply for 'fun.'

Ganja is used today in a glaucoma treatment called Cannabasol, (from Cannabis Sativa; the academic name for it). This was the first time that ganja was used in a pharmaceutical preparation.

Usually it is a home remedy.

Ganja tea is used to control asthma as well as a number of other conditions, such as arthritus, nervous tension, and by fisherman to see in the dark.

Ganja is soaked in rum and the rum is drunk. Night vision is so enhanced that on moonless nights fishermen can see to avoid reefs. This is the property which provoked Doctor West to experiment with ganja as a glaucoma treatment.

Ganja & The Law

Although it was made illegal at some point, (the rum companies were complaining) ganja is and has always been used in Jamaica.

At certain venues, such as Sunsplash and it's kin, the police will play deaf dumb and blind. When they want to harass someone they suddenly get real picky about possession and use.

Ganja was set to be legalised in Jamaica in 1973 but the American government interceded with the remark; "If you legalize it, no plane that takes off from Jamaica will be allowed to land in America."

So it continues to be illegal, and due to the occasional incursions of the police, the price of ganja has gone up and the quality has gone done.

Different Types

Sensimilla, meaning without seeds, is the premium quality ganja. Most of this is grown on large plantations hidden in various parts of the island and exported.

The better qualities of ganja have a lot of resin, (feel sticky).

The usual stuff that is hawked is called 'bush', it's a crappy mess of leaves, chopped up stems, and seeds. Although once picked it should be carefully sorted and dried, today, unless you are getting premium stuff, it is pretty trashy.


Due to the cost; (in 1973 you could get a tam full of ganja for 50c, in 1979 a pound was $50.00, today tiny little bags of a teaspoonful of crap are sold for $20.00) people are smoking a lot of mixed weed. That is ganja and tobacco left over from a cigarette which are rolled into toothpick sized things they have the audicity to call 'spliffs'.

Actual spliffs need four pieces of Rizla paper and are as long and fat as a cigar.

Growing Ganja

Ganja is a weed, it just grows. Drop a few seeds on the ground and it grows. Often it is cut when it is the size of a man, but sometimes people forget where they planted, so you'll see actual trees which could sort of impersonate Christmas trees dotting the landscape.

The only fertiliser allowed on ganja is bat poo.


Most country people have houses with a little tiny attic for bats. Bat poo is the best fertiliser and most country people periodically send someone up into the attic to shovel it out, and then can use or sell it.

Many old buildings around the place have their share of bats, so it's not a hard product to find.

Being very strong, one shovelful of batpoo is mixed with about six shovels of soil, and that is used on the fields where ganja will be grown.

If you don't know the precautions to take with bat poo, leave it alone.

Preparing Ganja

Usually one waits until the plant is about man sized before doing the reaping thing. It depends on where one is, where the police are, and how much trouble the plants are causing which determines reaping.

Usually a moonless night is selected, although I've heard people wax lyrical about full moon ganja.

The ganja leaves may be stripped from the bush or the bush itself maybe hacked. It depends on time and place, and the recognition that ganja is illegal.

The harvested ganja is often sorted at this point to remove seeds and large twigs, then packed into crocus bags, (people are actually using large white plastic sugar bags today, although crocus is preferred) tired securely and hung up to dry for about a week.

Time depends on a lot of things, including where the police are in relations to where the ganja is.

Once the ganja is dried it is then sorted, and depending on whether it is for export use or local, it is treated differently.

Ganja for export is usually packed into an old jack and compressed. The compressed ganja is then put into whatever it is that you think the police won't notice.

Local ganja is measured by teaspoon and put into little pieces of plastic and the four corners are caught and twisted and a knot is made.

Ganja + ?

RastafarI consider Ganja a sacrament and treat it with respect. A prayer is said, it is packed into a cutchee, (a big pipe) and lit. Two puffs should be taken before it is passed to the person on the right.

In non-formal situations, ganja is rolled into a 'spliff' using cigarette paper and more often, tobacco is added. The rolled spliff is licked to cause it to burn slower. It is smoked like a cigarette although you'll see foreigners suck it in and hold it in their mouths for awhile.

Ganja, green ganja, is boiled at tea. You want to put a handful of ganja into a pot with water and slow boil it covered and then let it steep so that the water is very very dark. It is very bitter, but it has excellent properties especially for the prevent of asthma attacks.

You can add orange peel, searcey, leaf of life, if you want to the ganja. You drink it straight off like a medicine, not sip it like a Sunday afternoon on the terrace.


Batshit, Ganja, Growing-Ganja, Hemp, Marijuana, Rasta, Weed

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I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar James R. Coffey
12th Nov 2010 (#)

Hummm . . .

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author avatar kaylar
12th Nov 2010 (#)

Is this a good or a bad hummm

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