Dr. Machel A. Emanuel, a 35-year-old scientist from Dominica who has lived in Jamaica since 2007, is in the process of recovering the strain of marijuna that was smoked by Bob Marley.
Emanuel, who has a doctorate in biology with a specialty in horticulture and the adaptation of plants to climate, has cultivated a field of cannabis plants at the Biology Department at the University of the West Indies in Kingston.
According to the scientist, landrace cannabis was smoked by Rastas in the 1970s, including Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, along with Marley.
“In the 50s, 60s, 70s, Jamaica was known for its landrace cultivar, which definitely gave Jamaica that international reputation,” he explained to a reporter recently. However, this strain of the plant, he says, was weaker than today’s cannabis, which is artificially modified and has much higher levels of THC.
Emanuel further explains that during the 1980s war on drugs in the US, landrace cannabis was destroyed. His mission to recover the plant has led him to Rastafarian groups living in remote places across the Caribbean, including Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Dominica. He finally found a Rasta still smoking the plant, who lived in the mountainside and hadn’t been in touch with the modern world for some 40 years. He was able to get the seed and bring it back to his lab.
Even though it has less psychoactive effects, the claim of landrace cultivar’s historic, untainted roots may make it a hit among a growing market of conscious consumers leaning towards natural, untampered products.