Caribbean: "Ganja Planter" Lament Tops the Charts in Trinidad & Tobago 5/13/05

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A song bemoaning the plight of marijuana growers is all the rage in the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad & Tobago, with a radio-friendly censored version getting heavy play on the airwaves and an uncut version with lyrics involving a rocket launcher and an anti-drug helicopter "selling like hot hops on the street... and blasting from every taxi, maxi, and PH as they speed past," the Trinidad & Tobago Express reported Sunday.

Calypso artist Marlon Asher's "Ganja Planter" was ranked the number one dance single on the May TnT Island record charts as of May 1. Asher sings of the plight of island marijuana farmers in general and, in hard-hitting, politically-pointed lyrics, criticizes the island police's "Weedeater" marijuana eradication program in particular. "Even people who have never even been up close and personal with a spliff are singing along with Asher as he chants about the frustrations a marijuana farmer endures whenever the law burns his field," the Express noted.

The song was inspired by the plight of friends, Asher told the Express. "I was never a farmer," he said, "but I love the herb. I have friends who are farmers and seeing what they have to go through when police burn their fields inspired me to create the song. People must understand that planters have mouths to feed and this is how they earn a living to do so. Putting aside the fact that herb is life and everything else about that, when you think about the work and money a man puts into his field and then see it being burnt, it's not easy," Asher said.

While he defended the growers, Asher was not averse to finding alternatives for them. "I believe the authorities should provide an alternative crop if they have a problem with the ganja. The farmers would be willing to adapt to something else once it brought in an income that made sense. It's all about supporting their families for these people. Any man who can feed his family is a comfortable man," Asher said.

And lyrics about shooting down police helicopters notwithstanding, he is not advocating violence, he said, nor is he advocating that everybody smoke pot. "Herb is not for everyone. It have people who will smoke and trip. My music is not about promoting hate and violence, it's about uplifting people. I may not be able to change the world, but I can lead people into thinking differently about life and living with each other. Also, the lyrics in the song that tell about the rocket launcher, does not mean that people should kill police. I am showing the anger that a farmer has inside when he sees his field being burnt. That anger and frustration is real," Asher said.

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Issue #386 -- 5/13/05

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Editorial: Paying for Propaganda | Feature: Marijuana Remains Legal in Alaska | Feature: Major Russian Drug Reforms on Verge on Being Reversed | Feature: ONDCP Student Drug Testing Road Show Dogged by "Truth Squads" | Announcement: DRCNet/Perry Fund Event to Feature US Rep. Jim McDermott, June 1 in Seattle | Sentencing: House Passes Orwellian "Anti-Gang" Mandatory Minimums | Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Cocaine: Connecticut House Passes Bill to Eliminate Crack/Powder Disparities | Pain: Boston Congressman Wants Nationwide Ban on Oxycontin | Pain: ABC's Nightline Gives Sympathetic Look at Pain Treatment vs. Prohibition | Prisons: Sex Abuse of Federal Inmates by Guards "A Significant Problem," Justice Department Says | Initiatives: Denver Marijuana Initiative Submitted for Approval | Initiatives: Michigan Marijuana Initiative Effort Gets Underway | Middle East: Lawless Iraq Becoming Key Drug Corridor, INCB Says | Asia: Taiwan Considers Syringe Access to Reduce AIDS Spread | Caribbean: "Ganja Planter" Lament Tops the Charts in Trinidad & Tobago | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Listing: Outreach Coordinator, Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform (DRCNet) | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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