Response to Now Magazines Jodie's Joint Article July 27, 2018

A very interesting article indeed and I must say very surprising! This comes a day after OrGanja Society (OrGanja) helped launch the first ever Ganja Fest in Toronto, and it was a smashing success!!! Are you for real Jodie???

To be fair Jodie Emery has been vocal about racism and classism when it comes to cannabis and the Canadian courts. Racialized communities are over-represented in the prison population and are unfairly sentenced harshly unlike their white counterparts. As a woman, Jodie has taken many bold stances and proven her commitment and passion to the cause. She has used her privilege but she is negating that legacy by making irresponsible statements like this.

Overall not many mainstream Canadian activists have used the cannabis platform to bring attention to discriminatory policing practices like carding of racialized and mostly indigenous and youth of Afrakan descent. By and large the Afrakan-Caribbean population remains almost completely absent from the huge amounts of energy, time and resources already being harvested from cannabis industries popping up all over Canada.

So what has changed? We thought Jodi was an ally we could work with in solidarity! Instead of ‘bigging up’ and thanking Rastafari movements in Canada, Jamaica, the UK, Latin America and the US for educating people like herself about the culture, technology, ritual and reverence of cannabis use in indigenous communities including Rastafari.

People with the privilege Jodi Emery wields should be ensuring real inclusion and racialized and indigenous representation concerning pending cannabis legislation. Most Rastafari will be re-criminalized by the policies we've seen so far such as tenants not being allowed to use cannabis in their private rental units. Far too few Rastafari own land in Canada including private homes. Why isn't Jodi speaking out about that?! Why isn't she reaching out to Rastafari communities across Canada and use her political clout to mobilize grassroots communities to challenge these highly discriminatory policies?

l would like to introduce Jodie Emery to OrGanja Society and invite her to get to know who we are. It is precisely for these reasons why OrGanja was created to fill a profound void in the Caribbean and perhaps her 'Joint' will indeed contribute to mobilizing cannabis activists in Kensington Market and the GTA.

However, it is worth noting Jodie Emery's remarks about not wanting to cater to those who show respect to "the rasta coloured stuff" (maybe because they ARE Rasta, or are influenced by Rastafari culture?) are very disrespectful. Acknowledging the culture and history of cannabis is essential to how Canada will respond to legalization on a cultural level. That "rasta coloured stuff” is the very foundation of Ancient indigenous cultural traditions Rastafari has been blessed to protect and cherish.

Certainly Jodie Emery's words do not inspire inclusion but seem to perpetuate exclusion. Neither do Jodie Emery’s words promote diversity in activism so with whom will she be organizing if even Abi Roach, one of her colleagues of Hotbox Café questions her integrity. Bluntly put Abi Roach, a friend of Jodie’s, seems to think Jodie is using her privilege to encroach on her clientele. She suggests its opportunism but Jodie disagrees. She says, "What I'm building at Jodie's Joint is not about the rasta-coloured stuff. I want something with a more mainstream presentation." 

Without a foundational relationship with Rastafari communities, be they in the GTA or in Vancouver, such sentiments suggest legalization will perpetuate the same old systemic patterns and practices; carding and racial profiling, arrests and targeting of racialized community members will continue with even harsher prison sentences from what early legislation policy has revealed. This is what lies ahead for the disenfranchised. Will Jody Emery be an ally to those victims of being poor and of Afrakan heritage? Her message is clear, she's not that different from the Prime Minister, who doesn't see, speak to or care about poor racialized Canadians.

Would you be inspired to do activist work with someone who frames your culture's great cannabis tradition, which the same mainstream, government and private sectors have all appropriated for centuries?! Perhaps OrGanja will be able to help Emery realize that "old school history of cannabis” is the very foundation upon which she has been able to play the role she has in this global cannabis legalization movement.

And go figure, G98.7 announced this morning the CN Tower will be appropriating Rastafari's red, gold & green on Caribana weekend. So those are not just decorative colors but they represent the history and values of indigenous nations - the spilled blood of their ancestry, their stolen lands & resources! Red, green & gold FLY HIGHER THAN HIGH!!!

Please see the link to Jody Emery's article here: