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Rastafarian Culture: Cannabis as a Sacrament and Spiritual Tool

Kelleen Peters

Rastafarian Culture: Cannabis as a Sacrament and Spiritual Tool

Rastafarian Culture: Cannabis as a Sacrament and Spiritual Tool


This paper explores the fundamental role of cannabis within Rastafarian culture, a spiritual and cultural movement originating in Jamaica during the 1930s. Cannabis, viewed as a sacrament, holds significant spiritual and cultural significance for Rastafarians. It is considered an essential tool aiding in meditation, relaxation, and spiritual enlightenment, often used in group gatherings known as "reasoning sessions" to facilitate discussion, reflection, and prayer.


The Rastafarian movement, deeply rooted in African heritage and resistance to social and political oppression, has a distinct spiritual outlook with cannabis playing a central role. The use of cannabis, often referred to as "ganja," is an integral aspect of the Rastafarian culture, symbolizing spiritual connectedness and freedom.

Historical Context:

The Rastafarian movement emerged in Jamaica during the 1930s, largely as a response to the oppressive conditions faced by the black population. It draws inspiration from African mysticism and resistance against colonialism. The movement gained prominence following the crowning of Ras Tafari Makonnen as Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in 1930, seen by Rastafarians as the fulfillment of a prophecy.

Cannabis as a Sacrament:

Cannabis holds a sacred status within Rastafarian culture and is considered a sacrament, central to their spiritual practices. Rastafarians believe that cannabis aids in achieving a state of meditation, relaxation, and spiritual enlightenment. It is seen as a medium to commune with the divine and attain a higher level of consciousness.

Spiritual and Medicinal Uses:

Rastafarians use cannabis both for its spiritual and medicinal properties. Spiritually, it is believed to facilitate a deeper connection with Jah (God) and enhance introspection. Medicinally, it is seen as a remedy for various ailments and a means to maintain overall well-being.

Reasoning Sessions:

"Reasoning sessions" are group gatherings within the Rastafarian community where cannabis is used to facilitate discussion, reflection, and prayer. These sessions encourage open dialogue, sharing of experiences, and the pursuit of spiritual growth collectively. Cannabis is consumed as a means to promote a state of relaxation and openness, conducive to engaging in meaningful conversations and fostering a sense of community.

Legal and Social Challenges:

Despite the spiritual and cultural significance of cannabis within Rastafarian culture, legal and social challenges persist, especially in countries where its use is restricted. Rastafarians often face discrimination and legal repercussions for their sacramental use of cannabis.


Cannabis, regarded as a sacrament, plays an essential role in Rastafarian culture. It symbolizes spiritual connectedness, freedom, and a means to commune with the divine. Understanding the cultural, spiritual, and social dimensions of cannabis within Rastafarianism is crucial for promoting tolerance, respect, and a deeper appreciation of this unique spiritual movement.

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