Cannabis (Marijuana) in Rastafarianism

August 11, 2006 · updated February 15, 2022

A ganja farm in Westmoreland, Jamaica. Cannabis Pictures

Rastafarians are well known for their religious use of marijuana, which grows plentifully in Jamaica.

Rastas call the cannabis plant ganja, the holy herb, Iley or callie, and believe it was given by God. Scriptural support is found especially in Psalm 104:14: "He causeth the grass for the cattle and herb for the service of man." Other texts interpreted to refer to cannibis include Genesis 3:18, Exodus 10:12, and Proverbs 15:17.

Marijuana is used primarily during the two main Rastafari rituals: reasoning and nyabingi. In addition to ritual use, Rastas also use marijuana for medicinal purposes, applying it to a variety of ailments including colds.

Rastafarians reject alcohol as a fermented chemical that does not belong in the temple of the body and it makes a person stupid, thereby playing into the hands of white leaders. This is contrasted with the holy herb of marijuana, which is natural and believed by Rastas to open their mind and assist in reasoning.