Roots/reggae/dub/jazz Empress Jah9 is somebody who has openly expressed her support for the legalisation of marijuana throughout her music. Tracks such as Steamers A Bubble, Taken Up, The Marijuana and In The Spirit are evidence of this.
Marijuana, ganja or herb, also known as cannabis or weed, was outlawed by politician Harry J. Anslinger in America in 1937, and propaganda quickly spread throughout the world, claiming that this plant was a drug, or that its side effects were detrimental. In actual fact, if one is to acquire the required knowledge and seek out the necessary information, they would find that this herb is not actually a negative thing at all, nor is it a drug, nor is it in any way detrimental to one's health if used and understood correctly. Since the dawn of humanity, there's not been one death recorded that relates to the use of cannabis. Alcohol, though, and tobacco? That's a different story - and they're legal!
As the world is slowly waking up to the immense healing benefits and natural gift that is herb, there are still many things that need to be addressed. For instance, there are many ways that one may partake in the herb. The majority of people these days are known to smoke herb, but others cook with it, infuse it in drinks, take it via drops and tinctures under the tongue, and some, like Jah9, choose to steam the herb. I asked Empress 9 about the impact of steaming as opposed to smoking, and about her experience partaking in the hola herb of creation.
9: [I’ll] talk about the medicinal part of it because [of how] my relationship with herb started. I grew up very sickly; I was vaccinated, and I blame vaccination for most of my ailments and my immune deficiencies over the years.
9: I grew up in a family where, just like most of the people in the diaspora, you eat meat and you eat rice and you eat flour, and this is how we were taught. We were not taught how to feed ourselves properly, and so with all the best intentions and as great as my parents were, they just didn’t learn any differently, [therefore] I wasn’t being nourished in the way that I should have. It hurts my parents when they hear me talk this way but it is the truth, so I had to learn a lot of this the hard way. Being exposed to milk and cheese and all of those things, I suffered, and they didn’t know how to help me, so there’s a lot of medication and medicine and hospital in my history.
9: Then, I stopped eating meat and I started to feel the difference in my body, and then I was exposed to herb along the way. I started by smoking, and smoking is an awesome ritual; it’s so easy to just roll a spliff and smoke. Even with smoke I was able to feel the benefits in my mind space and my body space, but then I started to steam the herb. Combustion came out of my life and I stopped smoking altogether, and it was just all about steam.
9: I started to notice my lung capacity increased, because I was breathing much more deeply in order to keep the coconut shells lit, and I was also experiencing a lot more liberation in my lungs, and freedom from a lot of the bronchial illnesses and the sinus issues that I had, and so, for me, that was like, okay; there’s no greater joy now. [I would steam] to the point where I would feel the tightness in my chest and I was able to integrate using not just ganja but peppermint and other herbs that were also good for me.
9: Anything that you can use and make tea, you can put in your steamers. Once I realised how beneficial this was to me, I just became the biggest advocate of not just ganja, but using the steam chalice in that medicinal way. Apart from the benefits you can learn about online, I would say that steaming the herb is something that I am so proud that I have been able to help share and see, now to the point where Jamaican youths - I don't even have to trod with my steamers again; all the youths are steaming.
They’re everywhere and everyone has started to get the benefit from this thing.
For those that aren't aware, steaming is a process that incorporates all elements of nature into the herbal experience; that of air, fire, water and earth. A traditional steamer, or chalice, is primarily made up from a coconut shell and a stick of bamboo. The coconut shell is filled with water, coals are lit and vapour produced. This vapour is then inhaled, held, and exhaled, as per any normal smoking experience - difference here is you'll really feel the strength of this powerful, easily under-estimated plant.
As legalisation spreads throughout the world, surely, it's time for the nations to understand and reap the medicinal benefits of this cleansing, holy, healing herb. Now, as to who should get first dibs in promoting and monopolising on legalisation - that's another story for another time. Hint: it's the herbalists.
Jah9 is currently working on her third studio album, due for release in 2019. To keep up-to-date, follow 9 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Photos by @samokush_i
A snippet taken from my recent interview with Jah9 at Yoga on Dub 2018 in France.
Jah9's track Steamers A Bubble - massive!
The Marijuana by Jah9. One drop of ganja oil a day keeps the doctor away...
An acoustic version of Jah9's Taken Up, one of the biggest anthems of her 2013 album New Name and one of the biggest ganja anthems out there at the moment.
Interestingly enough, Jah9 explained in our recent interview that Field Trip, one of her newer tracks, is a ganja song as well.
Finally, a track called In The Spirit, taken from Jah9's 2017 album 9.