Negril, Jamaica (December 18, 2016). The opening ceremony, Friday, December 9, 2016, of the second staging of the annual Rastafari Rootzfest, got underway with Nyabinghi drumming and chants led by Ras Iyah V, founder & CEO Rastafari InInity and Master of Ceremonies, Barbara Blake Hannah, Author & Co-coordinator, Jamaica Film Academy/Reggae Film Festival.
Mark Golding, former Minister of Justice, paved the way for Rastafari RootzFest to stage the first ganja-exempt festival held over three days. His opening remarks follows and is nothing short of impressive. “It is an honor to support the first Ganja-exempt event under Jamaica Ganja reformed laws… I was very much looking forward to being here again this year. This industry is [a] regulated lawful industry around Medical, Therapeutic and Industrial Hemp; it is on the cusp of greatness, but we still have work to do. We have to push out more effort. The framework is there and it is for those administering it to do so with the right heart and mind, to make it real, and make it work to deliver what it can for the people of this country. It is a billion dollar industry. We have the brand, music and Rastafari culture that projects it to the world in a righteous way.”
He further said to Minister Chuck: “This thing that me drop you inna… I’m not sure what you had in mind, but continue to work with it, as it has great potential and some great people are here to work with. Learn from them, they have a lot to teach us…I will be happy to collaborate in any way.” Minister Chuck responded by saying “A lot of the credit for the opening up of the ganja industry was done by Mark Golding over the years and the new legislation just passed went further than I thought…I will do my very best so that it is balanced and all players can benefit and does not breach international treaties…In reference to transporting the ganja sacrament, Minister Chuck further stated that “I will give you all the exemptions needed, approved within hours.”