Words by Seth Fischer
The weather in the Bay Area the night before was a mixture of torrential downpour and gusts of wins that would have made the city of Chicago jealous. The power had been out for close to five hours out in Half Moon Bay, where I was temporarily staying. The forecast called for the gloom to continue throughout the weekend, but that wasn’t going to be enough, not even close to enough, to deter me from spending some time with Julian Marley the following morning. The son of Bob and Lucy Pounder has been running around for the last few months doing his part in promoting JuJu Royal – Julian’s pro-marijuana brand aimed at promoting and educating the masses through his own line of cannabis-related products (Vape Pens, Seeds etc.), as well as his newfound partnership with DropLeaf, and even with a rare day off he was gracious enough to grant me an audience of one exclusively for SKUNK to talk about the herb and what it means to him and to the world. Because that is the kind of person that Julian is – someone who cares so greatly about the herb and disseminating its potential as a proven remedy that getting the good word out there is his top priority.
It should also be no surprise that the following morning the sun was shining and the clouds were nowhere to be seen as I made my way downtown to meet Julian at the 2nd annual Marijuana Investor Summit. With blurry eyes and a wide smile, it wasn’t difficult to see just how excited he was to talk about everything that was happening for him as well as the evolution of the Marijuana industry as a viable market.
Seth: Let’s talk about Juju Royal and why you decided to get involved in the industry.
Julian Marley: Well, first of all, Juju Royal’s my name, my nickname, you know? It’s been my nickname since I was five. When you say Juju Royal, they know who you’re talking about, you know what i’m saying? (laughs)
As for the herb industry and the herb, our people, as Rastafarians have been using herb from creation, you know? So herb is Rastaman’s thing. So in that sense, Rastaman’s the first man me know who plant herb, so that goes to show you it’s only natural that even from Jamaica, from a Jamaican point of view that the Rastaman gets his piece of land to plant because they have been planting from decades. So it’s only natural that we are in this industry. It’s our thing.
Seth: Is it frustrating here in North America, how much of a reluctance there is to accept marijuana considering it was given by God, doesn’t destroy the environment…
Julian Marley: And the main point, something that is free. In that sense, when we say free we mean man come on Earth and see herb. Man didn’t bring herb to Earth. God made herb. So it checks out like that. So herb is free. You can walk anywhere, “Oh there’s a herb tree. Oh, it’s free.” No. The drug market, which, you know, people who use pills and this that injections go to the doctor, (it) costs so much money just to make those drugs. It costs so much money, but yet the herb is so free. So… hmmm…. Let me check out that. Why, you know? Is it because the drug market will go down once we know that the herb is real and the herb is right.
Everything is here on Earth by God and is here for the benefit of man. Fruit, vegetables, herb, water, everything is right there.
Julian Marley: Yeah, and the rain that bless the Earth. So everything is here already so why are we fighting it? We know it’s so positive that it makes the people join as one, you know? In one unity.
Seth: Is it tough to deal with someone who is very hesitant to even try to understand?
Julian Marley: Not really, I just know they don’t understand. There’s a veil over the eyes that you just cannot see what is real and you only know what you’ve been told, not what you’ve found out for yourself or what you’ve looked into.
Seth: Your partnership with DropLeaf, congratulations on that by the way.
Julian Marley: Thank you.
Seth: How did that all come about?
Julian Marley: Well it came about I was sitting down in Jamaica, burning on some good Kush. A Rastaman that is always there, he just came up and was like, “Me know some people that are in the herb industry and would love to start a brand,” and at that time I never heard of any other brands, you know, coming out. I didn’t know musicians could have brands like that. I was like, “Yeah! For Sure!” And then we meet and checked out and look where we are today. It came from a friend and then here we are today, right here in Frisco.
Seth: What is the message that DropLeaf and JuJu Royal are trying to get out there?
Julian Marley: The message is the herb the herb the herb is good for everyone. It’s organic. It’s pure. As they say, Rastaman believe in naturality. We don’t like to smoke the herb that people pollute. Those are the things that give herb bad name, when people start polluting the herb. The herb is a natural thing where, as we say again, it’s so good for everything.
Seth: So it sounds like an educational kind of endeavor.
Julian Marley: Yeah. I just know a selection of people that don’t understand, like when we say Rastafari is the second coming of Christ only because the bible said so and because the Doctrine said that and the same book that we read in the churches says that, and they all of a sudden are, “Who’s Rastafari? Oh, it’s the King from Ethiopia. Oh I think I understand that.” There’s still a veil just because what, some guy in a big suit says and because you can’t buy a big suit you don’t have a big word? So the truth is there but there’s a veil over the eyes.
Seth: I always felt people are afraid of things they don’t know or understand.
Julian Marley: It’s like something that is holding onto people. And it extends from, obviously, rulers, to media to everything, you know? People who are just set in a kind of stereotype thing, and not knowing that really and truly they are the weirdest people. We who smoke herb we don’t get up and feel like we want to fight and cuss everyday and create havoc. Last night we had a nice party. Everyone was smoking herb and everyone was reasoning with one another. I must have spoke to everyone in the whole room and the room was full. And that’s only because people had time for themselves to talk and they were talking and (feeling) nothing different than what we’re feeling right now. That is what you call unity. So if you really want to know about unity you smoke some herb and get into yourself because herb is a thing that builds into yourself.
Seth: The partnership also announced that you would be donating 1% of annual sales to various charities. Tell me about the first charity and why you chose them.
Julian Marley: Weed For Warriors is an organization that is for the benefit of the victims of war. The soldiers that go and fight and come in and they’re wounded. And they’re giving them drugs, which is really spinning the mind. That’s why we hear of so (many) people that want to shoot up the place. And we talk about them, say them people used to work here or work there and they go through so much trauma. Only the herb centralizes that. The drugs get you didgy, the drugs get you off, but the herb balances the man’s structure, a man’s mind, you know? So one of the reasons was for the the victims and also making it free. Making it so they can get it. Not just because, “oh, you want to sell…” No no no. It’s a purpose. It’s a cause behind the herb. It has always been the cause from day one.
Seth: You mentioned the Drug Administration Agency before. Marijuana has proven to have healing abilities and, as you’ve mentioned, it’s free, it’s sustainable and something that can be grown without harm to the environment, why are they skeptical to not test further?
Julian Marley: (laughs) Just like we say, the pharmaceuticals will go broke, because herb will have the answer to all the questions, and that is the problem. Maybe they should all get into herb and make herb be a part of everything and you’ll find out you don’t need drugs because all of a sudden now herb is legal. That’s the only reason, but yet they want to give you morphine, you know, and these things, but if you get it on the street they lock you up. But you’re still giving it to me and some people die by the morphine, they give them too much. The herb is a tranquilizer too, depends on the strength of it, acts as those things, you know? They’re able to call it now, “Yeah that same kind of morphine drug,” the herb is the natural thing.
Seth: You started Ghetto Youth International with your brothers as a way to give back, which seems to be a common theme for you. You released a single on the latest album (Set Up Shop, Vol. 3) called Lemme Go, which is about the new laws in Jamaica.
Julian Marley: Yes
Seth: And in the song you talk about how can it be wrong to feed your family by selling weed. How do you feel about the new laws in Jamaica?
Julian Marley: I mean it was great, but we have to look at how long we wanted to burn a good Sensismilla out in the open. That means that the Rastaman… from the ’70s reggae music has echoed all over the universe, and they be holding down and locking up Rastaman in Jamaica, so it’s great, but also, what took you so long? You know? Gee Whiz. You know what i’m saying?
But it’s great, you know that we can have, finally, you know? Like two months before the laws got freed up, I got stopped by police, coming from my father’s resting place, we just came off from a spiritual high and come off of the mountain and then here comes a guy, and I tell him, “Yes I just come from Bob Marley.” And he said, “Oh, let me search your truck.” He finds some herb, and was like, it wasn’t even that much herb, he wanted to make a big deal. I said, “alright, alright.” And obviously everything pan out, you know, after he go like this three times (rubs fingers together insinuating money), make the hand clap, know what I mean?
Seth: A mutual understanding.
Julian Marley: Yeah, as they say, you know? And then, it was cool, but I was a bit kinda like, “Yo,” but you understand, you know who we are and basically they are stationed for my father’s community. So there should be a sign of respect there. But basically two months after that, hmmm… it’s free. Ok, I gave you some money, here you go, what I want to do, I want to go back and visit him at the station and say as a joke, “Yo!”
But it’s great, it’s great to see the law free up, you know? At least he can’t do that anymore so he’s gotta look for something else to do. That was his last… from anybody. (laughs)
Seth: Why do you think it took so long?
Julian Marley: I don’t know, politics?
Seth: That seems to be the motive for everything.
Julian Marley: Honestly, for everything that happens.
Seth: One of the bittersweet things about the new laws is they’re planning on spending a percentage on sort like an anti-smoking campaign.
Julian Marley: Which is what?
Seth: They’re trying to discourage people from smoking.
Julian Marley: In Jamaica?
Seth: Yeah, and about the health detriments and such. How do you feel about the fact that on one hand they’re a little more accepting…
Julian Marley: Well obviously greed is the thing, but it’s not about that it’s about the people. The people’s culture and what the people know. Because I’m sure that Jamaica showed the world herb through reggae music. You listen to people talk about Bob Marley, everybody wanna smoke herb. And then some of these people get in the vibration, it’s that plant – the herb. It’s from this music which echoed right across the world, you know? As they say, it is the food of life. It’s for the mind, it’s for the soul. So it goes beyond all boundaries, you can’t stop it. You can’t stop it. Even if you stop it, a bird is gonna drop a seed somewhere. You know it’s gonna grow, it’s gonna be hemp. And then man is gonna find the seed again, and stop the plant and it will come back again. So they cannot stop it.
Seth: And why should that be illegal?
Julian Marley: As they say, it’s God’s plant. Are they trying to say that God is wrong?
Seth: Well who is man to differentiate between which plant is legal and which is not? Like, can they say all of a sudden tomatoes are illegal?
Julian Marley: Right. That’s why it’s not really the plant that’s illegal, it’s man (that’s) illegal. It’s not really the plant, because they know when we use the plant, we become that much wiser. Take away the plant. It’s not really the plant, it’s man. When we smoke it we unite. And Babylon fall. All negativity, whatever you want, out. And in comes positivity. And with positivity, there’s no war, there’s no crime, there’s nothing to make money off of, there’s no kind of violence or anything wrong. Everybody’s one. So those who get paid out of seeing people getting brutalized will be no more.
Seth: They don’t really emphasize the corruption in politics as one of the primary roadblocks. How would you feel about if it does become legalized here, one day they’re arresting people for weed and the next they’re reaping the financial benefits? It’s a weird dichotomy.
Julian Marley: It’s like day and night or good and bad. I mean, that could work. It’s almost an accident from man. You know all of a sudden you’re tell someone don’t drink no water, or don’t drink no lemonade, you can’t drink lemonade you can only drink water. No, man. Man has the right. And once you channel with God, God’s law becomes the law. And they’re still not listening to God’s law. So if you’re not listening to God’s law then what is your law?
Seth: What do the new laws mean to you personally, to your family, to the movement and to Jamaica?
Julian Marley: It just means that everyone doesn’t need to hide anymore. I mean people weren’t hiding anyways, it just means you don’t have to have that double look now. You know, smoke as long as you don’t smoke on the street. So that is a good feeling. So we’re waiting to see what really comes out of it, but that start is an ok start.
Seth: What about for the movement?
Julian Marley: It’s a plus. It’s another dot.
Seth: How do you think your father would view where the movement has evolved to now?
Julian Marley: I think he’d probably say the exact thing we’re saying. Cause man they were brutalized, the man they run from police for herb already enough times. So now he’d probably say, “Yeah, man. Good! Bout time, too!” Come a long way around. Come a long way back around. Are we the same people that promote the herb and now they’re making business out of herb? So them should give something back to the Rastaman that have been brutalized, you know, for finding one spliff in the ’60s. Not even a spliff, anything, even an inch. 90 months. You know what i’m saying? Straight. So what about those people? Now you’re making money off the herb. Give back something to them now. So them say, “Ok, sorry for that. Here’s some land. Plant a plant.” Do something. Let’s join together and make it bigger.
Seth: It’s been a long time since you’ve released an album. What’s on the horizon?
Julian Marley: Well right now, as it stands, hopefully by July we’ll have something new for the people, a new album. Been working hard over the last couple months. Got some good songs, you know?
Seth: Is the album written yet?
Julian Marley: Yeah yeah. It’s written, recorded… just the finishing touches now. Like mixing. The title we’re still working on, you know, still looking for a title right now, but look out for (it) this summer.