‘Kingston Cannabis’ Interview with Aza Lineage
With the global explosion of Cannabis legalization and decriminalization, it’s been interesting to observe the differences in canna culture from country-to-country. While in some countries, cannabis still remains highly illegal, other countries, like Jamaica are embracing the culture for which it has long been famous. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jamaican Reggae artist, Aza Lineage, to hear firsthand how Ganja “tings” run in Jamaica! Read our interview below to find out:
NM: Greetings Aza, thanks for joining us today. Please tell us about yourself, where did you grow up? How did you get involved with music?
AL: Greetings Massive, waa gwaan? My name is Aza Lineage, I am a singer/ song writer/ singjay emerging from Kingston, Jamaica. From as long as I can remember, music has always been a part of me. I grew up in the Kingston 7 area, where I was raised by my grandmother, (affectionately called “Mama B”) and extended family. My cousins operated a Sound System from my yard called “Serious Gold,” for whom I recorded my first dubplate at The Lineage Family HQ. In 2014, I reunited with the Lineage Family, and from that day Aza Lineage was born.
NM: Yes I. You have quite a few songs about Cannabis, such as “Smoke Weed Today”, and “Plant Up The Herbs”, what inspired you to write those songs?
AL: In terms of the inspiration for ‘Plant Up The Herbs’, Big up to Natty Megs and the whole Cali massive who plant up the good, good herbs. ‘Plant Up the Herbs’ came about when we linked up and I did my research and realized like… “Whoa… this is California… the Marijuana capital and ting” so in my subconscious the song came about, and I wanted to give thanks for the farmers too. Without the farmers we wouldn’t have the crops. So give thanks to the farmers across the world for all of the hard work.
The inspiration for the song ‘Smoke Weed Today’ came through the riddim, and my bredren Smilez who actually wrote the hook for the song, “Smoke weed today… Guaranteed to take your problems away”… then I took it from there in terms of the verses. But Smilez is a real weed head still! (laughs)
NM: What role has Ganja played in your life? What were some of your first experiences with cannabis?
AL: My first experience with cannabis was through my Grandmother. At a very young age, I used to see her make a medicine. She would get a bottle of rubbing alcohol and put some ganja stalks and stems in there, as well as pimento seeds, Guinea Hen weed, and other different herbs and spices. And she would use that to sop the head or any joints or wherever there was pain. And when you woke up, whatever pain was there would be gone.
However, in growing up, you know, I took it upon myself to experiment with Marijuana, and so far the experience has been positive and the role that it plays in my life is this: You see, however you spend your first couple of minutes or hours in the morning is very essential to how the rest of your day will turn out. So when mi wake up inna the morning and mi drink mi water… I will crush out a fresh herb, and build it up and smoke it and hold a medz [meditation]. So, that helps me to clear the mind, to take on the mission ahead for the day.
NM: Yes, I. So, you like to roll one up in the morning. Are there other ways you like to consume cannabis?
AL: Before I share my opinion, let me first state, that I am not a medical doctor, neither am i a scientist, but my experience has been positive so far. I have made sure within myself that I don’t abuse it, and use it when it’s necessary. I use it for various reasons… I use the extracted marijuana oil for my skin and for my hair and it gives me beautiful results. Sometimes I smoke it, sometimes I steam it. Sometimes I make a tea from it, sometimes I make the medicine that my grandmother used to make. But I always try to use it responsibly. I don’t see it as a drug, but as medicine.
NM: In Jamaica, what are the laws surrounding Cannabis? From our experience, you can smoke it in public, you can grow a personal garden… Is that true? Do you know how many plants one person is legally permitted to grow?
AL: To my knowledge, it has been decriminalized, but not fully legal… whatever that means. You can smoke it in public, depending on where you are. And you can have a small amount on you without being prosecuted by the law. And yes, you can grow it in your yard legally. I think it is 5 plants per person, so the amount of adults that live in your yard, will determine the legal amount that you can plant.
NM: What is the Cannabis scene like in Kingston? Are there clubs, dispensaries, cannabis businesses?
AL: The marijuana scene inna Kingston to my knowledge is alive and well. I see more and more people smoking and steaming and using it for different types of medicine. I have seen a couple dispensaries in Kingston, one of them is called “Kaya Herb House”. But in every question I answer, I have to shout out the farmers, because without the farmers, we wouldn’t have marijuana to smoke, to eat, to make clothes, to make paper and the various things that the plant can do. So for me personally, I like to get my herb straight from the farmers. Yah man, to just show appreciation and say we stand in solidarity with you and we give thanks for the hard work that you’re putting in, every time.
NM: Are there any customs regarding Ganja that are unique to Jamaica? Or do you have any legendary ganja stories, folklore, etc. to share?
AL: One ganja custom inna Jamaica is that we don’t smoke bush, you know, strictly high grade. And one of the legendary stories of the many that I have heard, is the story of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church in Jamaica. In the late 1970’s members of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic movement were convicted of smuggling massive amounts of ganja from Jamaica to the U.S. and that was rumored to have kept the Jamaican economy going that decade. A second legend i hear a lot is that ganja sent a lot of youths to Universities, you know. There are a lot of stories, but these are the two that stand out to me the most. And this was happening in a time when ganja was strictly prohibited across the board. So big respect to the ones who took the chance to get good herb out to the people. Respect.
NM: Respect. Is there anything else that you would like to share with us about Herbs or your music?
AL: Alright, so one extra thing I’d like to share about the herb, to people across the globe- especially to the young people: Don’t over-do it… If you love it, use it responsibly. And find out the different ways in which you can use it, and it is effective to your mind, body and soul.
In terms of music, we are still quarantined at home now, so I am taking the time to be creative. I am working on an album right now with King Jammy, as well as a release coming soon with More Life Productions, ‘No Winners of War’. So the I them can stay tuned and just look out for the works. I will keep you updated via the various social platforms. ( www.instagram.com/Azalineage )
Stream ‘Plant Up The Herbs’ by Aza Lineage for free at https://soundcloud.com/nattymegs/plant-up-the-herbs-aza-lineage-more-life-productions or add it to your playlist on Itunes, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer and all digital platforms! Distributed by Tuff Gong International. www.MoreLifeProductions.com (www.instagram.com/nattymegs)
By Natty Megs (Lion Ridge Family Farm / More Life Productions )