Research Article - Journal of Drug and Alcohol Research ( 2023) Volume 12, Issue 2

The Reggae Artistes and the Marijuana Legalization Struggle: The Bob Marley Example

Obiorah Ekwueme1, Felicia Ezeugwu2*, Ngozika A. Obi-Ani3, Mathias C. Isiani3, Uche Uwaezuoke Okonkwo3, Obinna D. Ezeaku3 and Christiana Chinyere Ukwueze2
1Department of Theatre and Film Studies, University of Nigeria, Nigeria
2Department of Music, University of Nigeria, Nigeria
3Department of History and International Studies, University of Nigeria, Nigeria
*Corresponding Author:
Felicia Ezeugwu, Department of Music, University of Nigeria, Nigeria, Email:

Received: 01-Mar-2023, Manuscript No. JDAR-23-95625; Editor assigned: 03-Mar-2023, Pre QC No. JDAR-23-95625 (PQ); Reviewed: 17-Mar-2023, QC No. JDAR-23-95625; Revised: 22-Mar-2023, Manuscript No. JDAR-23-95625 (R); Published: 29-Mar-2023, DOI: 10.4303/JDAR/236226


Marijuana which people tend to condemn is acceptable in some medical situations as it is curative of certain ailments. Nonetheless, certain professions such as Music, Fine Arts, Theatre and Film Studies that require creativity are believed that enhancements such as marijuana help them to transcend beyond the ordinary sphere; thus, moving into realms where they receive vibrations that enriches their output which those ordinarily considered ‘normal’ may not come up with. Although their sense of mission or protests in case of Bob Marley, tend to rebel against certain prevailing societal circumstances, yet despite their shortcomings, they appear natural, identifying with the burdens of the ordinary man and woman, leaving the society better than the corrupt politicians censoring their conduct. The objective of this study is to underscore the nexus between morality of the artist and marijuana using the Bob Marley story. Drawing inferences from sociological and biological theories of deviance, the study interrogates the popular notion about marijuana users as moral deficient humans. The study argues in the proper socio-historical light that marijuana is not an underlying cause of alleged social deviance among users but rather other factors such as socio-political and economic conditions as well as biological traits can be held accomplice. Data for this study was carefully extracted from both primary and secondary source medium and employed through the qualitative research method with design sequentially exploratory and narrative. Overall, it is hoped that the findings of this research will be beneficial to scholars of social sciences, humanities, policy makers, creative genesis as well as society at large.


Marijuana; Criminalization; Media;; Indonesian celebrity


Controversy on the place of Marijuana in humanity has raged on for years and has produced divergent and varying contrastive perspectives of some sorts. Right from time immemorial Marijuana has been acknowledged as essential for medicine, recreation, inspiration and creative enhancement, religious purposes, mood regulation, and food [1-16]. The onset of the 20th century filed in contra popular perspectives which have not only shaped moral and psychological perceptions but also have influenced harmful and stringent legislations and enforcements against marijuana and its users. In a nutshell, contra popular perspectives have categorized marijuana and its uses as vice and mentally degenerative [17-21]. Very many consider marijuana as highly addictive and the cause of serious harms both to the physical and the mental health of its users, and blamed for multiple problems such as idiocy, violence, unbridled sensuality, madness and degeneration [22,23]. In some remote cultures like in Africa, Marijuanais a taboo and its users perceived of as being morally stagnated, deviant and sick. At least there is this popular notion that music artists especially of the reggae, rock and roll, pop and blue and etcetera exhibit immoral lifestyle. This calculation of course partly arose as a result of the popularization of marijuana in the creative space of 20th century generation musicians including reggae singers like Bob Nesta Marley coupled with the fact that high degree of violence and immorality prevailed in Jamaican society of the time in which major segment of the population were marijuana users. With prevailing incidents such as this; it becomes easy to misconceive marijuana users as moral deviants. Varying criminalization by different levels of government has arisen as the attendant concomitant cataclysmic consequences. Criminalization of Marijuana came at the detriment and consternation of Marijuana users some of which are music artists who rather see marijuana as having every positive effect on them and society. This scenario therefore presents conflict of interest and utility between marijuana and non-marijuana users that needs unique reconciliation. Whether by laboratory research, logic or by ‘women’s intuition ‘one way science arrives at conclusion about a controversial issue is through sample investigation and case study analysis. Such case study analysis must take into account the socio-political and economic stance of the society and biological factors in accounting for moral deviance and mental deficiency attributed to marijuana users. The demeaning value associated to Marijuana and its users as morally deficient and mentally degenerated is one to be investigated and invalidated through the society and compelling legacies of Bob Nesta Marley as a Music artist with reference to biological and sociological theories of deviance. Bob Marley was chosen as a particular reference because he presented a perfect example of a core marijuana user who was involved in a constellation of lifestyle and dynamic society that serve as perfect parameter in judging the morality of the artists and other marijuana users. We argued that the demeaning value given to marijuana users including artists as moral deficient humans hold no water when the life and times of music artists like Bob Nesta Marley is placed on a scale of moral balance.


Under normal circumstances, researching the moral conduct of artists and other marijuana users is problematic. It requires being sensitive not only to one’s own baggage, but also being accommodative of opposing perspectives. In a nutshell, studies of this nature often attempts to undermine one’s sense of objective judgment due to the already prevailing negative stereotype of marijuana and users in societies. Avoiding a situation like this requires a unique methodology involving a combination of flawless parameters that unanimously stand the test of objectivity as well as the agreement of all. To this end, qualitative method of historical research and analysis with design sequentially exploratory and thematic is employed in this study to determine the morality of artist and other marijuana users. Sources were carefully selected and employed through the historical principle of source-criticism. Case Studies and Theories were the parameters through which judgment were made. While the study utilized the life and times of the music artist, Bob Marley as well as his Jamaican society as a case to determine the morality of marijuana and users, sociological and biological theories of deviance were used to drive home the stance and Hypothesis of the study. The significance of these combined approaches is that they produce objective judgment.

Research questions

The following cogent and coherent overarching research questions guided the research:

• What are the scholarly justifications that negated perspectives that marijuana users are moral outcasts and mentally deficient?

• To what extent did the society of Bob Marley help explain that peripheral components of the society but not marijuana are instrumental to social deviance?

• How has the life of Bob Nesta Marley underpin the nexus between morality of the artists and marijuana?

This paper is structured in answer to the above seismically research questions.

Research hypothesis

• Marijuana gives inspiration and influences one’s ego and sense of moral conduct.

• Marijuana is not a vice and users including music artists are not social deviants.

• One’s biological makeup and the nature of the peripheral components of the society are factors behind social deviance.

• Legalization of marijuana in Africa and Caribbean will neither increase the population of Marijuana users nor increase crime.

Theoretical frame work

The sociological and biological theories of Deviance are employed in this research. There are four major sociological theories of deviance each with different profounder via Labelling theory, Differential-association theory, Anomie or social strain theory and control theory. These theories in addition to the biological theory are employed in this study. Our major choice of interrogating the morality of the artists and other marijuana users using Bob Marley as analytical parameter will draw on the above theories to debunk the claim and perceptions that marijuana users including the music artists are deviants.

Labelling theory as developed and popularized by Becker (1963) is referenced to in this study [24]. The theory holds that deviance is a matter of societal decision; that is, behaviours are deviant only when society labels them as deviant. To this end, individuals or groups or significant members of the society can arbitrary term an action or attitude as deviant and impart the opinion or judgment on others. In a nutshell, the theory is concerned with the meanings people give to or derive from one another’s actions, reactions, attitudes, labels, symbols and etcetera. If one is asked why he sees marijuana users as deviants, the answer may be ‘nothing. Taking marijuana is not good.’ Why is it not good? Again one may decide to remain mute or respond ‘simply because it is not good.’ One just sheepishly agrees that marijuana causes deviance among users without any known evidence. This is the situation currently with regards to the moral perception of marijuana users. Marijuana and its users is arbitrarily seen as vice and moral deviants and not basically because marijuana users have been found committing crimes.

Differential-association theory as propounded by Sutherland (1924) is also referred to in this study [25]. Differential- association theory is of the central proposition that people learn deviant behaviour from their interaction with others. In pellucid terms, deviant behaviour is internalized and actuated from association or socialization with individuals or groups. Such groups could be gangsters, cult group, lecherous peer, and so on, including social media such as films. To this end it can be extrapolated that one commits crime because the social group he identifies with commits crime and not because he takes marijuana.

Anomie or social strain theory advanced by Robert Merton (1949) as applied in this study emphasizes the role of social forces in creating deviance [26]. Social forces here imply elements of social, political and economic features of the society. The theory according to Merton (1949) states that deviance occurs when the socially acceptable means of attaining one’s aimed social status is closed or proves too difficult to conform with. Deductively, social conditions of the day such as poverty, hardship, unemployment, cost of living, political instability and violence as professed by Merton (1949) in Anomie contributes to social deviance. Jamaican society of Bob Marley days when viewed in hindsight renders much credence to this theory. For instance, Merton stressed that attaining wealth is a cardinal goal of Americans, but not all Americans possess the means to do this. Those who find the path to affluence shut to them resort to deviance, because a hitch has blocked their pursuit of a socially acceptable goal. This is true for all in all society and not basically because of marijuana toxicity.

Although social conditions and socialization influence are obvious, absence or inconsistent social controls are apt to causing deviance. Control theory as propounded by Reckless (1956; 1961) is of the premise that the absence or inconsistency of both inner and outer control mechanisms produces deviant tendencies. The theory notes that people may have the natural inclination to violate rules but may not because of internal or external restraints. Internal controls include conscience, values, integrity and etcetera. Outer controls include the police, family, friends, and religious authorities and so on. This will be seen in the life of Bob Marley whose moral conduct can be said to have been influenced by family and Rastafarianism. This is also evident in Jamaican society where social deviance was partly caused by police raid, brutality and harassment.

The natural tendency to go against stipulated societal norms is strong. According to biological theory of deviance reputedly credited to Italian School of Criminology headed by Ceaser Lombroso (1897; 1911) and advanced by EnricoFerri, some individuals had a biological propensity for crime [27,28]. The premise of the biological theory is that individuals deviate from socially acceptable norms largely because of their biological makeup such as heredity, or genetic malformation rather than marijuana. Indeed, this is illustrative with Bob Marley whose moral conduct can also be attributed to his biological makeup. Despite his excessive use of marijuana and in a society where one is easily lured to deviance, he displayed an exemplary moral life.

Results and Discussion

Are marijuana users truly social deviants and mentally deficient? Literature review

The thrust of this paper is to negate the perspective that marijuana lowers the psychological function of the mind and that its users are moral outcast. For instance, marijuana has been labelled as ‘the pernicious and degenerative vice, an opium of the poor taken as revenge of the defeated, poses several health and environmental challenges reduction in intellectual level and divergent thinking ability [17-21,29-32]. In the social construction paradigm of deviant behaviour, drug addicts such as marijuana smokers can be homosexuals, delinquents, and traitors whose actions violate the set of rules established and enforced in the society [33]. Indeed the validity of these scholarly perspectives may not be in doubt but it should be recalled in the proper historical light that not all marijuana addicts, if any, exhibit deviant behaviour and mental deficiency. From the perspective of this paper, the premise which these literatures maintain was arrived at through limited and perhaps ill approach such as the evaluation based on structured societal values and attitudes sustained by ‘arbitrary labelling’ as well as relative judgment.

Against this background, Pew Research Center (2004) conducted a research that revealed that majority of respondents favour decriminalization of marijuana while further greater majority responded that alcohol pose far more danger to health and society than marijuana although probability responses suggest that if marijuana were as widely available as alcohol, it would be more harmful [34]. The later of the above findings may have sparked further studies on the effects of marijuana liberalizations on marijuana use, other substance use, alcohol consumption, attitudes surrounding substance use, youth health outcomes, crime rates, and traffic accidents [35]. Using data from Monitoring the Future’s annual surveys of high school seniors indicates that while marijuana liberalizations appear to have reduced the use of cocaine and its crack category, hallucinogen salvia and heroin, alcohol and other harmful narcotics; it does not significantly influence the rate of consumption; reduces days of illness and adolescent fighting and bullying at school and work.

Smart (2005) and Greydanus and Patel (2005) noted that after legalization of Marijuana, regions with data available reported that population that testified having used marijuana remained stable; alcohol, cocaine and cigarette use decreased and crimes and deviant behaviours associated to marijuana decreased and arrests for cannabis-related crimes subsided [36,37]. By their findings, it is understandable that people commit crimes in protest of government policies they deem harmful. To this end, it can be suggested that marijuana use does not propel one to commit crime but rather people who smoke marijuana may commit crime because they felt harmed by legislations such as marijuana criminalization.

Using the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), Williams et al. (2017) also find no increase in adolescent marijuana use from medical marijuana laws [38]. Anderson and Rees (2014); Anderson, Hansen, and Rees (2015) and George and Aitken (1997) suggest little effect of medical marijuana laws on adolescent marijuana use and related outcomes [39-41]. Smart (2015) also uses NSDUH and finds that states with larger increases in registered medical marijuana users experience increased adolescent marijuana use, traffic fatalities, and alcohol poisoning [36]. This basically advances the notion that deviance activities that may have been found among some marijuana users are not basically because of the intoxicating effect of the drug but rather a protest of against the inconsistent policies and brutalities of government and society. CARICOM (2018) unveils that marijuana user who experienced with the law, resolved to continue with crime as a way of life because inconsistent applications of the law had led to deep resentment and non-cooperation with law enforcement agencies. This ideally suggests that rather than to violate societal rules, certain other hidden factors and reasons also influence social deviance [42].

According to WHO (2016), “CB1 receptors (which respond to THC) are widely distributed in the brain and can result to cognitive impairment including schizophrenia, poor academic performance, increased risk of using other illicit drugs, increased risk of depressive symptoms, and increased rates of suicidal ideation and malign behaviour [43]. In the same vein CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana (2018) investigated the several multi-faceted aspects of marijuana question and posited based on conclusive evidence that marijuana is less harmful or no more harmful than other substances that are not prohibited under law like alcohol; and that marijuana can no longer be accurately classified in-law as a dangerous drug that impedes moral values or divergent thinking. A comparison of the findings of WHO (2016) and CARICOM RCM (2018) reveals all-round contrasts and this contrast is not in any way dependent on the area of study but rather an illustration that the effects attributed to marijuana may not basically be marijuanally but a manifest influence of either social or biological factors. For instance one must bear in mind that WHO is an agency of United Nations and that UN’s interest is American government’s interest; and America’s interest is yet the criminalization of marijuana. Marijuana may be lawful under states in US but marijuana is still a grave outlaw under US federal law. The fact that WHO (2016) failed to give marijuana its proper benefits calls their findings into question. To this end the studies by CARRICOM RCM, (2018) tends to hold more truth than WHO (2016).

Research conducted by Borcherding (2016), Zanettini et al. (2011), Jackson et al. (2016) and Galvin, Guerrero-Martelo and DelaHoz (2017) lays credence to CARRICOM RCM (2018), According to Borcherding (2016) infrequent users saw a significant increase in academic involvement and performance as compared to non-users [8,9,44,45]. This ideally illustrates a correlation between marijuana and mental alertness or perhaps creativity which is applicable in music. The results also illustrate a negative, non-significant correlation between marijuana and social involvement. Multiple daily users saw a significant decrease in social involvement as compared to non-users thus reducing the prospect of causing commotion in a gathering a kind of moral conduct.

With regards to the moral conduct and right of the individual, Teesson et al (2012) demonstrated among other things that Marijuana use does not constitute the kind of wrongful conduct that is prerequisite for immorality and punishment [46]. In the same vein Goullé, Saussereau and Lacroix (2008), Mikuriya (2009) respectively observe that tetra-hydrocannabinol (THC) in Marijuana impacts on one’s ego shaping his moral sense of reasoning and question of actions and events without recourse to fear or favour [47]. For many, this can be morality in a sense.

Regular marijuana consumption in adolescence has been linked with increased risks for anxiety disorders, even after marijuana intake was stopped [48-50]. Against this background, Zanettini et al (2011) for instance states that the effects of marijuana on emotional and cognitive behaviour may be strongly influenced by various environmental factors. Marco et al (2011) went to the extent of suggesting that marijuana may be pharmacologically useful in management of some psychiatric disorders such as depression, stress, anxiety, anorexia nervosa, and others. Muni (2014) revealed that report made by the 1999 IOM did find that the anti-anxiety and sedative effect of marijuana can be beneficial and produce much less addiction than alcohol. Still, interview conducted by Wil (2015) on two marijuana addicts and pushers recommends that those prone to paranoia should try moderately strong marijuana strain as it’s less likely to interrupt anxiety as a sativa-leaning bud [50].

Lastly and not the least, studies conducted by Amonini and Donovan (2006) on the relationship between youth’s moral and legal perceptions of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana and use of these substances found that peoples’ perception of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana and their usage and users as immoral was not necessarily dependent on the harmful effect of these substances nor on evidence on the social deviance of users but rather a matter of involvement [51]. Those that perceive any of these products, there users and usage as immoral were the non-users while those that famed the morality were users. By this, it is deducible that determination of the morality of the marijuana and its users has not been based on the physical harmful effect of marijuana nor on the villainous and unruly attitudes of the smokers but rather based on one’s ordinary intuition and societal labelling that marijuana and its users are ‘bad.’

In all literatures are divided on the actual place of marijuana and its users when it comes to morality and creativity. While some maintained exclusively that marijuana is immoral and users exhibiting anomie, many more literatures argue in favour of the moral attribute of the marijuana and conduct of its users and among other values such as creative and intellectual enhancement. It is not difficult for this study to take position. Based on its versatile consideration that psychology, behaviour and attitude of people can be more influenced by social and biological conditions rather than what one eats or drinks, this paper supports that marijuana and its users exhibit no immoral place in the society.

The society of the Bob Nesta Marley days: A perspective on social factors that could influence immoral conduct

Jamaica particularly of the Bob Marley days presented a society in which immorality and social vices were the order of the day. Jamaica had been under colonialism for 400 years. All features of colonial rule such as economic exploitation and hardship, forced labour, domination of important civil and political position, segregation, social welfare stagnation and much more had been the relics of colonial Jamaica. By first quarter of the 20th century, this prevailing social condition was further worsened by the great economic depression of 1929 [52]. The 1930’s saw Jamaica’s socio-economic crisis aggravated mainly caused by growing unemployment, failing sugar price, ruin of the banana industry by the Panama industry Disease, as well as increasing population [52]. Yet within this period, immorality among the rich and poor reigned supreme in Jamaica and found expression in some venereal diseases; syphilis, gonorrhoea and yaw which preyed on the people. Infection rates as reported by experts at the time “topped 80% of the population and included children as young as eight” [53]. The almost complete absence of morals existing among a large class of Jamaicans in which nightly swarms of prostitutes roamed in crowds only staged as the cause of these epidemics. Jamaica was gripped by moral panic. The moral panic over syphilis, gonorrhoea and yaw in Jamaica between 1934 and 1942 was dismissed by authorities. A growing elite mulatto middle-class nursed offence against perceived British indifference to their social and economic predicament. British monopoly of high positions in several strata of the society equally formed their resentment. Juxtaposed with Rastafarian movements which originated in the 1930’s among impoverished and socially disenfranchised Afro-Jamaican communities, the road to Jamaican independence neared. Jamaica finally got her independence in 1962 with two outstanding political parties dominating the politics of the society. These were the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) and Peoples National Party (PNP) [54-57].

The onset of independence marked a new beginning for another set of ambivalence in social conditions. Jamaica had become free but there was no any significant improvement in her social condition of yesteryears by the end of the first decade of the independence. The colonial experience had bequeathed its legacies of poverty and unemployment, inequality, corruption and political violence, crimes and gangsters, poor currency value and general moral decadence. Some of these situations were highly evident between 1940 and 1970 [57]. Although the period between 1950 and 1970 was reported to have marked certain economic improvements (World Bank 2004) there is no doubt but it should be seen in the proper historical light that this economic betterment was only at the expanse benefit and monopoly of few elites ruling class. Poverty, unemployment, and much more still prevailed among the wider population.

This presented apparent riddles in the proper historical evidence that Jamaica was considered to be exceptionally rich and one of the most expensive places on the planet in the colonial days, but this wealth rested in the hands of very small white colonial elites (Treor, Laura, Jeffrey Dec 2017). The rest of the populace lived at the very edge of subsistence (Treor, Laura, Jeffrey Dec 2017).

By 1973, the Jamaican dollar moved from being the strongest currency in the Commonwealth Caribbean to being one of the weakest [58]. Like other countries in the Western hemisphere, Jamaica quickly compiled a large external debt in the 1970’s [59]. Inflation excelled at a double-digit. Chronic unemployment saga and recession coexisted with high inflation during the 1970’s, causing stagflation. As rural economic opportunities deteriorated, Jamaica also faced rapid urban population growth.

The JLP and PNP, responding to sectional interest groups steered away from the basic socio-economic concerns of the society. Equally, access to available opportunities was highly based on one’s party identity and loyalty, and knit relationship to inner core of party leadership rather than merit and qualification. Inter-party antagonism and frequent violence became the basis to distinguish oneself and access to opportunities. As a result, party politics, loyalty and violence led to gangsterism and proliferation of arms to nooks and crannies of the Jamaican society. It was therefore not surprising that these arms empowered teenagers, the impoverished, jobless fellows, and disgruntled individuals to commit all sought of crimes in Jamaica.

Police did not help matter as they were politicized. Heavy gun battle between police and opposing gangs were almost daily occurrence in Jamaica of the Bob Marley days. In another study, it was recorded that some of the weapons used by rude boys were obtained from members of the police force.

Armed robberies, shots in the dark, gambling at gunpoint amongst others have been recorded. According to Linnegar (2010) “violent crime in Jamaica has assumed a major role in overallcrime rates over the past three decades.” Moser and Holland, (1997) cited in (Linnegar, 2010) reported that increases included murder which stood at just 7 per 100,000 in the 1950’s and 1960’s together with rape and felonious wounding.

In the research conducted by Lafont (2001), it was reported that sexual immorality such as same-sex sexual acts, heterosexual sodomy, adultery and fornication are colonial values and legacies which have persisted as a source of national pride in Jamaica after independence although this was most prevalent among the elite class and frowned at by the mass who have become homophobia as a way of distancing Afro-Jamaicans from their colonial past [60].

Over all, Jamaica was known to be a marijuana society, with major segment of its population been passionate consumers. However, due to the high prevalence of marijuana usage among wider population of Jamaica, the social situation in Jamaica right from time became easily attributed to the effects of Marijuana among Jamaican citizens. This is evident by the first government criminalization of marijuana in Jamaica in 1913. For instance During the Gresat Depression, the staggering unemployment rate “increased public resentment and fear of Mexican immigrants, escalating public and governmental concern about the problem of marijuana in US. This panic prompted a flood of “scientific” research linking marijuana use to violent crime and deviant behaviours in “racially inferior” communities. Till moment marijuana remains contraband in Jamaica and in many societies across the globe simply because violence and other forms of social vices in Jamaica are thought to be caused by intoxicating effects of marijuana. But unfortunately a look at the root of social deviance in Jamaica reveals avalanche of factors that are potent in causing social deviance in the society rather than as end product of marijuana usage. Studies of the socio-political and economic condition in Jamaican society brazenly indicated that the immorality and social vices in Jamaica was as a result of economic instability and political violence and social stagnation in form sexual immorality which was a colonial extension. The above scenario complements the propositions of the sociological theories of deviance as explained in the theoretical framework. The fact that even non-users of marijuana were victims of crime and immorality sustains that it is the peripheral social conditions in Jamaica not marijuana that were responsible for the immoral conduct in the society.

Marijuana and morality of the artists: Bob Marley example

Bob Nesta Marley whose full name is Robert Nesta Marley was an exemplary music artist who was a core marijuana user. Born into a morally vigilant family and grew up in the slum area of Kingston among rude and street guys, Bob Marley would use his melodramatic life to champion morality. The social incoherence of the society in which Bob Marley was born into would be inspirational to one of the major themes that would characterize his song writing through his entire career. Born on 6 February 1945 in a very unimportant place and circumstance into the Jamaican society of economic hardship, political and social violence as well as moral decadence, Bob Marley was to become a child of necessity and exemplary character in the music sphere of Jamaica and wider world using his creativity and life to champion morality. His life and times is referentially a ship cruising against the ocean wave of social decadence and deviance. Marley pickup interest in Rastafarianism in 1960 got converted and began to grow dreadlocks and smoke marijuana which has been on debate as the cause of immoral conduct. A creative artist and marijuana user, rather than become a champion of immorality as would be expected, he was to use his music to condemn the moral ills of the society despite his intimate association with marijuana. The quantity or extent to which Bob smoked daily is still yet uncertain. Joe (2019) suggested that Bob Marley had the habit of smoking two joints or laps in the morning, afternoon, evening, night, in time of peace, war [61]. Zach (2019) responded that nobody kept track of the exact amount but the answer is that he smoke a lot more than normal [62]. From one of his surviving media photos on music stage, he is seen smoking with pipe, at least the size of a tap. This pipe is now called Marley natural pipe [63].

But in spite of his extreme consumption of marijuana, one would have taught that he would associate himself with social anomalies that characterized his Jamaica days but alas, Marley instead by his music lived a life like light directing others towards a veritable moral standard, a humane society should be. The city of Kingston where Marley grew up was known for its downtown life where gangsterinsm, bullying, crimes, fornication, suffering and inequality reigned. As Jamaica was a typical marijuana producing nation, many a critics of Jamaica society of the time believed that Marijuana had a role to play in inciting violence and promoting the urge to live immorally. But Bob Marley who grew up in the slum area of Kingston among Rude boys that were equally ambitious marijuana smokers presented a contrast. While he gets creative enhancement from Marijuana for his music, his music in turn served Asan Avenue to highlight the moral ills of the society and appeal for change.

Marley’s often socialization with rude boys who were capable of inciting violence and committing crimes aroused the anxiety of his mother who worried that his son would be influenced with the immoral conduct of some people in Kingston. But Marley expressed his moral awareness and resolution when he told his mother “Don’t worry, I don’t work for them.”

In February 1962, Marley recorded four songs two of which were “Judge Not” and “Terror.” Both “Judge Not” and “Terror” advocates for morality in the society. His “judge Not” believed to have been based on the Biblical quote ‘judge not lest you be judged’ (Mat 7:1) is about morality.

By 1962 and upwards, violence and crime rocked Jamaica. Much of this violence especially in Kingston was attributed to ghetto malcontents and criminals but was in fact sustained by the government and police who in a bid to gain power had supplied arms to supporters. But the Rude Boys; that is hard boys and men of Jamaica would soon receive an unexpected jolt to morality from Bob Marley’s Music.

In 1963, Marley and the Wailers released “Simmer Down.” The song was directed to the “rude boys” of the ghettos of Jamaica at the time, sending them a message to cool down “simmer down” with all the violence and crime going on in Kingston. It was a plea to the local gangs to back off from violence and ‘it was set to an aggressive beat that might well excite the sort of frenzy that the song’s words disavowed.’ For the first time, a voice from the ghetto was speaking to others who lived in the same straits, acknowledging their existence and giving voice to their troubles, and that breakthrough had a transformative effect in restoring moral rethink and conduct among the hoodlums.

In his “Positive Vibration,” Bob Marley preaches for righteousness. He condemns hostility between people. He calls for people not to quarrel with each other. He notes that quarrel or misunderstanding is devilish and thus immoral; hence, the need for one to abstain from quarrel as a step towards morality. He sang thus (Figure 1):


Figure 1: Positive Vibration by Bob Marley.

Bob Marley passionately encouraged positive attitude and feeling: A life that does not think up wicked and stinking plans; a life that is healthy in goodness and morality. He calls this rastaman vibration; something that connotes the life of a rastaman-meaning holy person of God. This is exemplified in stanza five thus (Figure 2):


Figure 2: Rastaman Vibration by Bob Marley.

In the last stanza of “Positive Vibration”, Marley assured us that as remaining in peace with each other and abstaining from quarrel is in tune with God’s way, it does not only attract the love of God but also his protection. This is an indication that living a life of peace and harmony with one’s neighbours is a moral life since the Bible and even Quran made it known that God will not show his love and protection to the immoral such as troublemakers and the wicked. In this way Bob Marley lets out his moral humanity not only to manifest via his music but also to use the music avenue rather than to cause more immorality as would be expected of a marijuana smoker but to appeal and influence rightful conduct in the society.

In ‘One Drop’ Bob Marley condemns socio-political system in Jamaica whereby political parties were engaged in political battle for supremacy, using the masses against each other causing death, hurt and hatred among the people while at the same time neglecting the social welfare services in the land. Certainly a normal sensible and rational person would properly perceive this as immoral-something that is wrong. In Jamaica, people were dying out of the social crisis and economic difficulty. People die of hunger and starvation, of gang wars, of police raids and much more. Bob Marley condemned this system. He calls for right to be pulled off the wrong. He advises people not to take part but to resist the immoral system. In stanza two, line 1-2, he sang (Figure 3):


Figure 3: One Drop by Bob Marley.

Here the ‘skism’ in line 3 is schism. This was in reference to the discord or disharmony between the political parties in Jamaica particularly JLP and NPP that forsake the welfare of the citizenry and in their respective struggle for supremacy incited the masses against each other.

Another manifestation of Marley’s sense of moral conduct is in his condemnation of slavery, colonialism, apartheid and cold war manoeuvrings such as the nuclear armed race and proxy wars as immoral. Many of his songs were devoted to condemnation of these inhuman systems. Under normal circumstances as marijuana smoker often believed to be social deviant, he would have remained unconcerned and indifferent. But rather his sense of morality found expression in condemnation of these systems. For instance, in his “No More Trouble” stanza two, line 4-end, he sang (Figure 4):


Figure 4: War song by Bob Marley.

Particularly colonialism and apartheid involved the economic exploitation and political brutality by a powerful nation over a weaker one. Also both Colonialism and Cold war was explicit in citing disunity and proxy war between and among Africans. Even in Jamaica the political violence and arms proliferation was a proxy struggle aided and abated by US and USSR. The struggle pitted the Jamaican love and peace minded people against each other. Instead of using his music reputation to take sides and fuel more violence, Bob Marley preached for peace and harmony which are the basics of morality. This was illustrious in his “Fussing and Fighting.” For instance in stanza two, he sang (Figure 5):


Figure 5: Fussing & Fighting song by Bob Marley.

Although Jamaica had obtained her independence and was not experiencing apartheid like South Africa; but her sovereignty was still yet incomplete judging that the queen of England was still the titular ceremonial head of state. However his song called for further emancipation of Jamaica from British control and also the freedom of the whole African nation still under colonial bondage. This in a sense is a reflection of morality since the call was aimed at cultivation of right and justice. In a moral scale of balance, to exploit and dominate simply because one is stronger or clever than another is immoral and this is what Bob Marley condemned. He noted that as these systems are immoral, they adopt treacherous means to maintain the exploitation and domination such as divide and rule and this has been causing war and conflict in Africa. Except this immoral system is purged out, Bob Marley re-echoes, Africa will not know peace and for sure, peace is a sign of system where morality prevails.

In “One Love” Marley preaches for love as instrument of morality. It is a well-known fact that to love is a moral obligation while to hate is wickedness and immoral. Here Bob Marley preaches love among humanity. He notes that Love is the greatest of all things and that love is basic to end all our troubles and worries. In stanza 1 and stanza 2, he sang (Figures 6 and 7):


Figure 6: One Love song by Bob Marley (stanza 1).


Figure 7: One Love song by Bob Marley (stanza 2).

In his song “Work’’ Bob Marley emphasizes the essence of working hard just as Paul told the Thessalonians in his second epistle. He encourages hard work and urges the people to steer away from laziness and dependence. He notes that working is a tenet of humanity and any anything or anybody that does not work is akin to commit evil since the idle mind is the devil’s workshop.

Bob Marley’s mid and late 1970’s songs were more of something for promotion of morality than for entertainment: Marley and the Wailers put forth an uncompromising vision of a society kept in hell and ready to storm its gates except morality is established as a culture both in the world, Africa and Jamaica. That attempted failed assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970’s may hold no water if attributed to his political alignment. However it must be seen in the proper light that the assassination attempt came as a rebuff of his message of morality which threatened the peace and system of the wicked.

Lastly, it must be equally emphasized that aside his music, Bob Marley, a music artist and perfect example of marijuana smoker, was one whose physical appearance and outfit was in line with the standard of dressing in Jamaican society of his days. Except his dread which is associated to his Rastafarianism, his physical outfit was in every way worthy of emulation. Equally his music featuring both on audio and on stage was highly devoid of nudity in attire and diction. For instance Bob Marley as a distinguished successful and influential man in a society tumbling in an abyss of hardship and sexual immorality could have chosen to surround his music activities with harlots and prostitutes and sex-hungry women of Jamaica at the time but rather he got married and involved his wife into his music. Bob Marley encouraged moderate dressing and avoided nude performance and multiple relationships with ladies. Excess (2001) cited in Lafont (2001) accounted of how a music artist who was also a Rastafarian threw out an American lady from his hotel room because the lady attempted giving him an oral sex. The correlation between this and Bob Marley is that the man is said to be a Rastafarian and also a musician. He could be part of Bob Marley’s music but even if he was not, his attitude serves to illustrate that of Bob Marley who was a Rastafarian and Music artist too.

Equally, judging the extent of sexual decay in Jamaica at the time, Bob Marley could have chosen to sing things like ‘aradalaadaadago, nkekwuoto ka gaadakwa (Breasts that have sagged have indeed sagged) or Onyenwe panty no nailooooo. Onyenwe pant no n’iloooooo (Who owns the pant that is outside? Who owns the pant that is outside?) But instead he chose to sing for moral restoration. And in no way have mention been made that Bob dined and wined with prostitutes that were swarming in Jamaica during the period.

When he was shot at his home in Kingston, Bob Marley could have gathered gangs to carry out a retaliatory attack or seize the opportunity when he was invited to address the crowed and calm them down to incite them against the group that made attempt on his life and fuel more violence in Jamaica. But instead he sang to the people “Smile Jamaica.” Such was a forgiving and carefree spirit-an appellation to moral conscience [64-70].


Overall, marijuana is such a creative enhancer, a sedative and hypnosis element that helps many to transcend beyond the ordinary sphere, thus moving into realms where they receive vibrations that enriches their output. That marijuana decreases aggressiveness in users (Mikuriya, 1975), helps to foam rational reasoning and influence one’s moral conduct and fibre as it activates an aspect of the brain responsible for value judgment informs the opinion of some psychologists such as Malizia (2018). Indeed it can be extrapolated from Bob Marley case that marijuana when taken helps activate the cannabinoid system thus enabling the artists to move into realms where they receive vibrations that enriches their output which those ordinarily considered ‘normal’ may not come up with such creativity. This has been aptly and concisely supported by Goode (1970) and Tart (1971) both cited in Webster (2001), and (Narwal and Pal 2020). However under normal circumstances artists and other marijuana users when intoxicated may be expected to be causing commotions, harassments, and participate in all sorts of impunity and crimes according to prevailing public notions. But the reverse is the case with music artists exemplified with Bob Marley. Rather than being influenced to perpetuate social deviance, artists in the case of Bob used their creativity enhanced by Marijuana to condemn immorality and social decadence.


This thus explains that if by any coincidence, an artist or non-artist who is marijuana user is involved in immorality, certainly blame on marijuana should be far removed. Certain factors and forces of course could have contributed to such social deviance rather than marijuana. By evidence from Jamaican society as well as sociological theories of deviance, deviance is a manifestation of negative and stringent peripheral aspects of the society. The moral conduct and activities of Bob Marley as observed in this study also suggests that moral deviance accused of marijuana users can be as a result of heredity and environmental factors and not basically as a result of marijuana. One may have inherited the trait of theft, bully or sexual mind set from his family background and coincidentally that person takes marijuana. To this end people might think it was the marijuana that was behind his deviance but innate trait indeed was the potent factor.

Thus from the foregone, this paper recommends that societies change their view of marijuana users as moral deviant and mentally deficient fellows. Social deviance and immorality should be accounted on the peripheral components of the society and one’s biological traits since non-marijuana users are also bound to commit immorality and deviance. Based on literature review that decriminalization of marijuana does not in any way influence population of marijuana users and that it even helps to reduce crime; this paper proposes that marijuana be decriminalized in all places including Jamaica and Nigeria. This is true as the chemical in marijuana known as cannabinoid moderates one’s ego and moral conscience. Also legalization of marijuana will reduce the rate of smuggling and consumption of other harmful substances that pose far more dangers than marijuana. From the medical proximity of marijuana, making access to it easy and open will increase life expectancy of people in many societies as the drug is highly medicinal in preventive and curative treatment of some life threatening ailments. Even the common availability of marijuana will make users regard it as something not worth influencing one to behave or act strangely. Same with fellows who have the mind set of hoodlumism; the tendency of some people to feel and behave in a way that depicts them bad and deadly is natural but founds physical manifestation in the realization that security agents hunt down marijuana users. These fellows in other to demonstrate their hoodlumism and appear dangerous in the eye of society easily find identification with marijuana as an easiest and surest way. Legalization of Marijuana will reduce this natural tendency. When marijuana is legalized, it’s cultivation and distribution will not only add to the income of some countries but also will help African nations at least in shaking off the shackles of some harmful western culture and exploitation especially in the areas of finished worthless products like alcohol and cigarettes.



Conflict of Interest

Authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


Copyright: © 2023 Obinna D. Ezeaku, et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.