Let’s take the High Road – Stepping High “Ganja” Festival 2015
STEPPING HIGH “GANJA” FESTIVAL 2015
J. Tolbert, Contributing Correspondent CitiLyfe Magazine
Now in its 12th glorious year, the exciting annual staging of Stepping High Festival more popularly refereed to as the Stepping High “Ganja” Festival officially kicks off on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at Cayenne Beach, Negril Jamaica and runs through Sunday, March 8th. The fact that a festival featuring ganja, the original Jamaica term for cannabis, has survived for more than a decade is testament to the foresight and advocacy of producers in an international environment that is only now beginning to show favorable approval for the development of cannabis industries. Stepping High has come of age and finally able to shed its cumbersome underground cocoon that will allow it to continue spreading the message that ganja use has multiple healthy and productive benefits. The theme of the Stepping High 2015 gathering is “together in oneness” which effectively conveys the message of unity as the Festival begins moving to its next stage of evolution in a beautiful country where the national slogan is “out of many, one people.”
As in years gone by when Stepping High was only permitted to exist as a hush-hush word of mouth event, scores of tourists and local area residents (age 18 years and older) are expected to return to enjoy a lively weekend filled with many exciting activities. The weekend features musical performances by some of the biggest names in Reggae like legendary artist and staunch cannabis advocate Bunny Wailer. Popular Roots & Culture artist I-Wayne has also confirmed his participation and many others are expected to be announced in upcoming weeks making for a multicultural lineup that also includes the showcasing of talented up-and-coming artists, live bands and selectors. The Festival attracts an array of food vendors serving scrumptious vegetarian dishes, freshly prepared seafood selections and extra-special laced dessert treats; a range of artisans will be on hand selling everything from original sculptured works of art to T-shirts; special service providers such as holistic practitioners will more than likely be on hand too. For those who hardly sleep while in Jamaica and rise with the sun, gates on day two open at 5:30 AM for a special educational segment featuring a panel of experts on the subject of cannabis that will be broadcast live on one of Jamaica’s leading radio stations IRIE FM beginning at 6:00 AM. You can also expect a few sponsored contests throughout the weekend and nightly “ole style” Reggae parties providing you with an opportune chance to mingle, generate high-energy vibes and of course, dance the night away!
A built in Stepping High Festival perk is that it takes place in Jamaica where island imagery is bigger than life and synonymous with good times and fun. And unless you’ve been living on planet Mars at some point in your life you’ll have already heard or overheard that the islands ideal climate and growing conditions is motherland to some (if not all) of the very best naturally cultivated cannabis strains on the planet. The reality is that while law enforcement officials have pretty much looked the other way while residents and visitors alike have smoked ganja openly at music festivals and just about any type of non-political special event gathering in Jamaica for years; grandmothers have been known to serve up and offer “the bush” in the form of tea to help reduce high blood pressure or to combat the effects of glaucoma and to relieve pain – the medicinal properties of ganja are legendary and bonafide as tried and true as a relieving aide for most people. Rightfully so under the banner of religious freedom the Rastafarian community has for years advocated for the legalization of cannabis as an integral component of their religious rituals. The good news is that recent legislative decisions in Jamaica point to a well thought out fast track road pointing towards full legalization as the government seems to be preparing to develop a new industry similar to what has already occurred in Colorado and beginning to take shape in other parts of the United States. For first-step legal decisions resulting in decriminalizing the possession of ganja in small quantities they have earned a well-deserved pat on the back. However, they should be encouraged to move further and much faster to retain the inherent lead they already posses the result of many factors including favorable product reputation worldwide and its identification with celebrity artists like the late superstar Bob Marley whose growing cult-like following is the result of prophetic lyrics and too, devote religious beliefs as a faithful Rastafarian that included an understanding and use of ganja. As Jamaican decision makers appear to be working to develop a fully regulated cannabis industry to include such aspects as product exportation, the possibilities for a productive billion dollar income generating vehicle benefiting every aspect of the society is promising, endless and for good reason. It’s no secret that tourists have been visiting the island for decades to experience its beautiful pristine white sand beaches, to relax and to “indulge” in cannabis culture. Street life informs us that weed from Jamaica is among the most sought after sources and a profitable income generator. So even while Stepping High has many great activities, the highlight of the Festival has been the showcasing and judging of herb that allows attendees to participate in the judging competition of a wide variety of ganja strains all vying for first place best in show.
With plans to attract and accommodate thousands of staunch advocates of cannabis use for spiritual meditative and medicinal purposes to Negril, Stepping High organizers lovingly refer to attendees as “some of the happiest people on the planet.” In 2015 you can expect an expanded version of previous stagings including a cutting edge outdoor venue with a 10,000 person capacity bordering the pristine tropical white sand beaches of Negril and, two full days of lively entertainment and adult activities. Of course as media professionals covering the world, the CitiLyfe crew has plans to be up front and center covering Stepping High 2015 from beginning to end for reporting purposes, of course! Until then we’ll keep you updated on the latest Festival announcements. Standing room General Admission tickets are $25US and $50US for limited V.I.P. tickets with extra benefits including express entry, guaranteed seating, free drink selections and more. At those prices tickets will probably sell like hot bread right out of the oven and the experience will undoubtedly be priceless.