Exclusive: Anthony B speaks on Marijuanna’s global legalization and decriminalization Image

by Federico Di Puma

It’s an Anthony B full of joy the person that greets us in the backstage area of the Rototom Festival 2014 in Benicassim, Spain. He has just ended his energetic show and closed the third day on the Main Stage, finally coming back to Rototom after a couple of problematic years.

JAmusic: Anthony B thanks a lot for your time from the whole Jamaicansmusic.com team, it’s great to see you back in Europe after a couple of years in which you had some problems, how you feelin’?

AB: Great, wonderful, give thanks to the Most High. I’ve always have to give Rastafari thanks and praise, He’s the life giver and He’s the preserver, He’s everything you know? So with Him all things are ok right? Give thanks


JAmusic: You’ve been to Rototom many times in your career, has this Festival a special vibe for you?

AB: It’s like I own festival for Anthony B, I kind of wrote my name in the book of Rototom (laughs)


JAmusic: You had Kabaka Pyramid on stage tonight and you toured a lot with him. What are your thoughts about him and this new generation on cultural artists coming out of Jamaica?

AB: Well, when we were coming up Burning Spear said he felt proud when he met me, when he met Buju Banton. He told us that Bob Marley would be proud because the tree grows, so what I’m saying is we are proud because we are growing and we see another generation taking that pattern, for me it’s great to see that my music has been an inspiration.

JAmusic: You mentioned Buju Banton, you were one of the first artists to release a song to support Buju, what do you think about his situation right now?

AB: Well, within Rastafarian faith we always say “Jah make nothing bad happen to you” so everything is a lesson and a process; he’s coming greater than he ever been and that’s the greatest thing ‘cause within life there’s hope and prison bars are not for Rasta because Rasta chant against these things. So it’s not something unexpected, if the moment comes that we are behind bars we have to say “well, we are here without killing nobody, we are on a mission and it can happen to best of us”. So what we do is we try to keep the memory of Buju Banton alive and make the people understand that they don’t have to lose faith or lose hope, so I try to remind this to the people, sometime I just sing one of his songs; this is what you do for a friend. Buju has been there for Anthony B as an inspiration, he was a person who showed a direction out of the ghetto.


JAmusic: Right, one last question then we’ll let you rest ‘cause you deserved it. You said before at the press conference that the steps towards legalization of cannabis are not what the Rasta community wants or is looking forward to, but don’t you think it’s at least a small helping step?

AB: Well, let me show you something: if you’re driving into a state where marijuana is legal, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? You can drive with marijuana! But you can drive with cigarettes; you can’t drive with marijuana even if it’s legal in the state ‘cause it’s not legal to transport marijuana. So what is this legalization?

With de-criminalization you would think “ok, the cops can no longer give me a criminal record for marijuana, but you can get ten criminal records now! Now it’s not one charge anymore, it’s ten charges; if they catch you with marijuana in your pocket you are going to get charged for transporting marijuana. Now marijuana is going to become a controlled substance, it’s like a liquor, so police can now stop you and check your breath for marijuana. If you know that it’s not legal, you don’t travel with certain amount, try to (throw it) away the thing so when the cops stops you you can say you have nothing! (Laughs)


Imagine you know marijuana is legal in Jamaica the first instinct would be “I wanna fly to Jamaica!” and you would probably end up in jail. The reason I say this to you? A big advertisement in Oregon was “Marijuana is legal in Oregon, everybody come” so I went to Oregon for a show, pull out at a coffee shop celebrating and then when I went inside the coffee shop the girl said “You’re not from Oregon, you can’t buy it”, and plus when I looked outside the cops were there: this is a coffee shop, but you can’t smoke in the coffee shop, you can’t smoke in the premises of the coffee shop ‘cause there’re cameras, you can’t transport! So, automatically, the only thing a cop has to do is to park there and wait for you to come out! (Laughs). So, it’s a business for them, how does it benefit a person who is a Rastafarian and wants it just like a cigarette to smoke? It’s not like this, it’s a business for them.

If I go to Amsterdam I can’t buy it, I have to find someone who can do it for me, so what is this decriminalization?  We want legalization but there’s nowhere in the world where marijuana is legalized, it is de-criminalized! De-criminalized don’t mean legalized, it means it’s still there in the book, under discussion.

In Jamaica, how is it going to benefit us as a Rastaman? It will not benefit the people in Westmoreland, in the bush who will lose everything since they are farmers, how we are gonna help them?


In Oregon to get the licence to grow weed you need to pay 100.000 dollars, and if can find 100.000 dollars what ya gonna do?! (Laughs)


So yeah, the reason I’m saying all this is that we don’t want to sell the nation no illusion, because it can be damaging to Jamaica image, and the government don’t understand. But we, who are part of this culture understand it. You don’t want to light a fire, saying that marijuana is legal and then having people coming to Jamaica and getting arrested, it’s gonna have a bad taste. And then you are going to find me and say: “Yo Anthony what’s happening in Jamaica?!”


So, that’s it, that’s what we are chanting for.

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