Words by Birdheye
In February of 2015, on Bob Marley’s birthday, Jamaica’s parliament passed legislation decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and legalizing its use for medicinal, therapeutic and sacramental purposes. It is anticipated by many that this will lead to full legalization, allowing an island long linked with the ganja trade to participate in — and potentially lead the way within — the fast-growing global marijuana industry. To track developments in this exciting arena, we’ve tapped dub poet, musician and exceptional herbalist Christopher “Birdheye” Gordon of our favorite Jamaican bongo band No-maddz as our chief ganja correspondent. For his inaugural dispatch, which you can read here, Birdheye attended the first major international ganja event to reach Jamaica’s shores since the new legislation took effect, the High Times Cannabis Cup. This is his second column.
Christmas in Jamaica is a time for fashion, family, fun, festivities and our favorite ‘F’, food. While the western world embraces the joyous season, the Ganja Santa Claus usually drops short of delivering high-quality bud. The most commercial season of the year definitely tun up the price, but the quality is watered down following the rainy season. The buds are more seeded and less potent. So The Birdheye View set out on the Ganja Trail to find the best brain food for the season.
Have you ever smoked a ganja spliff that touches your heavens so much, you had to visit the holy ground it came from? If not, you need an update on your weed man or depo…
My previous article highlighted a few strains that caught my eyes and touched my spirit during the first-annual Jamaica Cannabis Cup, one of which was Tangerine Haze. It was a late evening in December when I began the hunt with the GM —that’s the Ganja Millionaire. It took only a few hours to transition from the packed streets and red lights of Kingston, to the still night and red dirt of Comma Pen, St, Elizabeth. The silence in the valley was so thick I could feel my excitement echoing aloud. The was my first trip to a ganja garden… in my journalistic capacity, of course. But there would be no need for big boots and machetes. The days of ganja prohibition are becoming just a footnote in the pages of Jamaica’s history.
We deh yah! shouted The GM. The glimpse of homes prior reflected the perfect painting of the Jamaican country yard. I quickly discovered this was not the case with this home. A first gate led to a colorful second wooden gate. Its spunk was a pleasant reminder of Elephant Man’s house. Shizzle. The yard was dimly lit, and the winds whistled the chorales of the season. We were greeted immediately by Smokey. I allowed my energy to be felt before I made my exit from the vehicle: Better to be safe than sorry. A polite, playful pitbull is still a pitbull. My words to the unwise: do not venture to the Club Medz without an invitation. A gentle voice summoned Smokey. It was time to meet the grower and owner of Club Medz, Louis, or Jah Lou. I called him Uncle Louis.
Uncle Louis hits the mark with reverence and zen. His monk-shined head defies any notion of him being stereotypical or predictable. His twisted precept (beard) alludes to his depth and overstanding of Ras Tafari. The Ganja Guru led us steadfastly to his beautiful modern home. Each step was so delicate it would leave clouds undisturbed; yet the sound would quake thunder.
This place was no shack in the wall, or hut in the hills. The modern tropical home design was complimented by soothing music, and an open floor design. The St Elizabeth breeze played drum on the windows of all three floors, and the aroma of ganja was the acme.
“You nuh want something fi smoke…dawg?!” I was surprised at the use of slang, but not enough to hesitate on the offering of a beautiful Blue Dream bud.
While I knocked the grinder like pot covers at a West Indies cricket rally, I saw a few ounces of unmanicured Raspberry OG clinging to The Urantia Book. The text could pass for the cousin of the bible. Uncle Louis said, “It’s people like you should read them things; is a whole heap of craziness in there.” I obliged. Page 639, the Chapter of Universal Unity, in relation to spiritual unification, read in highlighted text: The Universal Father is one, but to time-space he is revealed in the dual phenomena of pure energy and pure spirit. Interesting.
It must have been some universal synergy, or the fact that the world is a small one. Uncle Louie was surprised that I had met his son in America. Ironically, it was at a LargeUp event held at Gurney’s in Montauk in the summer. Corey Chase is one of the lead DJs in the dub music movement, especially in Florida. Uncle Louie admitted that most of his music selection comes through him. He hopes that more Rasta music will be highlighted, especially those calling the name of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.
The reasoning came to a pleasant halt. It was time for a quick walk through the garden. We grabbed our phones. The moonlight danced ballet on top of the marijuana plants. The glare was as bright as Beyonce’s “Halo” music video. It was a bit dark, and I found it very difficult to see details of the plants. After a few minutes The Guru broke the silence. “Watch yah nuh dawg…come we go hit the pipe!” I moved upfront urgently. It’s been awhile since I steamed any ganja. In my haste to the dwellings I made the crucial mistake of inspecting a plant using my phone flashlight. Fortunately, Uncle Louis intervened: “No! You might shock the plant with the sudden light!” Apparently, the exposure can turn the budding plant into a retard, and damage the grow. The uniqueness of the strains produced by Club Medz became clearer. It was more than the techniques of light or soil. It’s embedded in the versatile personality, and spirituality of the grower.
Cheers! A blend of ripe banana, apple, natural milk and leaves from the Blue Dream plant came together in a blissful punch. But the knockout came through a bamboo-made steam pipe that was loaded with some Tangie Haze! Yes. (See video). The early morn moved closer with every gush of wind. I sat on the balcony, watching the stars, hills, moon and cuddle with the refreshing St. E breeze. I was alone in “Air Jamaica mode.” Yes my friend, I was “soaring” to new heights!
The morning light brushed against my beard gently. Before I ventured in the garden, I had to be clean and fragrance free. By the time I made it upstairs, I could barely roll my self a Ziggy. The morning greet was short and sweet because there were some green ladies we had to meet. This time Smokey was on lockdown. On our way, I met Marvin and a 74-year-old worker. They are amongst the guardians of the garden. Marvin had a humble soul with a deep Jamaican patois, and “Paps” works like he was 40 years younger.
A couple of skips, and we arrived at the Ganja Garden. The breathtaking beauty of the cannabis stained my pupils so deep I could even taste it on my lips. A hummingbird was already on the scene doing its morning nurturing. The layout of the garden was thoroughly orchestrated. There were HD lights placed on poles strategically to cover every tree to enhance growth process. All of the plants were labelled in the soil, a mixture of local and international dirt covered with dry Guinea Grass. The tallest of the lot was my favorite: the Tangie Haze. The Birdheye View had to say, “Good morning, its a honor to meet you.” I really love that draw of herbs. There is something about good ganja that brings out my best self.
We made our way to the top, and Uncle Louie eagerly highlighted the newest component of the garden. I assumed that the circular cemented area was a foundation for a tank, a solar panel, a filtration system or at least a special grow area. Surprisingly, the Guru said, “Christmas morning I can lay in the new Jacuzzi overlooking the garden.” That’s my idea of a Merry X-Mas…
The ganja trees were in awe, as the sun trickled down the hillside. The leaves asserted themselves to attention. The bud showed a glistening reverence. I began to browse the garden like an Internet junkie on unlimited Wi-fi. I talked, laughed and sang with the ladies of the garden. I got myself a few selfies, like a ganja groupie. In that moment, I saw the future: Ganja growing everywhere. Neighborhoods like Comma Pen will be transformed from producing fields of pumpkin and escallion to acres of green gold. I can’t wait to see the houses in the next decade.
We had to collect some extra material for the Jacuzzi. I hopped in the back of the pick-up truck with Marvin, who introduced the mason, “Ricky Trooper.” Not the one from Killamanjaro sound system, but a very quiet man who spoke with the sincerity of the kindest good samaritan. The root of his plight stemmed from a deliberate water shortage — A consequence of political ploys, and vote intimidation. Comma Pen is an Opposition stronghold — He believes that the ruling party refuses to quench the community’s thirst, as a means of punishment. They spend a lot to bring the water by truck. The same reason can be given for the deplorable condition of the roads, but that they don’t mind too much. It stands as security. No one can freely drive in and out of Comma Pen. Plus, it did not stop Uncle Louie from driving briskly on a red dirt path in a toll road state of mind.
We arrived at a work site, where a mutual grower was building a mansion. I knew Indian from his visits to the garrison of Grants Pen in Kingston. He always hinted that big things were happening in St. Bess, as we Jamaicans call our parish of St. Elizabeth’s. The mansion-warming party should be a spectacle. After a quick load of materials, our now extended Ganja Posse made its way towards some well-deserved country food. I can see how the street corner restaurants and shops will gain major profits from the Jamaican Green Gold Rush. The food we had was good enough to be a Christmas dinner. I had to burn almost a full power-nap joint just to level my very filled stomach.
Back at the garden, the afternoon sun was in deep reasoning with the ganja. Without any hesitation, Indian watered the plants. They came alive and swayed through the paced perfect breeze. The meditation was high. The delicacy of growing quality was evident. I began to observe the leaves to differentiate between the Indica (sleeping, drowsy) or Sativa (upbeat, humorous) strain. This was a personal test after my morning session with Uncle Louie, on the origins of strains. For example, The Blue Dream has broad and thick dark leaves that looks like an Indica. Uncle Louie explained that it is a hybrid between Blueberry and Silver Haze, in a 70/30 Sativa and Indica proportion. The ganja tree, he elaborated, appears a different shape and size due to the seasons. In the summer, the heat and light stretches the plant to grow taller and skinnier, but the buds are great in strength. In the winter, that model-type shape changes to a thicker, shorter and wider look. In Jamaica, we call that the “fluffy” type. The strength of fluffy ganja may dwindle but the flavor and scent from the terpenes are bountiful. Uncle Louis estimates the plants’ maturity by the full-moon cycle. Jamaica has a major problem when it comes to harvesting ganja grow prematurely, and placing uncured buds on the market. In the growers’ defense, it’s due to the anxious atmosphere of prohibition. Cannabis communities like Comma Pen are accustomed to soldiers and police probing around to burn the ganja grow. Fortunately, the Decriminalization Act has decreased the fear and cost of Babylon extortion.
The GM was ready to return to Kingston. I bid farewell to the garden, and gently picked a few leaves of Tangie Haze for one more round of Uncle Louis Ganja Punch. I am looking forward to the new year’s batch of Tangie. The coconut shell on top of the steamers was the newspaper article on The Ganja Millionaire. The GM’s historic venture —a ganja facility in the freezone area is definitely a story of its own.
Salutations were in order. The farmers were already in the garden; Ricky was on the rocks creating the new Jacuzzi. Smokey, the polite and playful pitbull, was distracted by the pile of fish bones brought from lunch. Uncle Louie blessed us for the journey and I gave him a jelly coconut as a “give thanks.” Uncle Louie taught me a valuable lesson: “Now is not the time of money, it’s the time of VALUE.” Therefore, it’s not the amount of cash one has. It’s the character of the person holding it. The ganja industry will be a marketplace of barter, so money will not determine good ganja. The size of fields will not equate to more profits. The best grow will come out of the exchange of knowledge in a unified marketplace. The truth is that Jamaica’s land mass cannot supply the world’s demand for cannabis. Instead, it is in our best interest to produce the most potent and organic weed in the world: The best brain food in the universe.
Stay high and stay fly —