Rebel Salute 2016, which will be held at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, Priory in St Ann, on January 15 and 16, has been declared an exempt event under the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act, 2015. It will be the second event held in Jamaica which has been granted the exemption. The first, Rastafari Rootzfest, was held in Negril, Westmoreland, from November 12 - 15 this year.
The exemption was announced on Thursday at the launch event for Rebel Salute's 23rd staging, held at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel, New Kingston. Event founder and organiser Patrick 'Tony Rebel' Barrett accepted the official certification from Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding.
A Ministry of Justice fact sheet on the amended Act states: "Persons who are adherents of the Rastafarian faith, or Rastafarian organizations, may apply for an event promoted or sponsored by them to be declared an exempt event. In order to apply, the event must be primarily for the purpose of the celebration or observance of the Rastafarian faith.
"Where an event is declared exempt, persons who attend the event will not be liable to be arrested, detained or prosecuted for smoking ganja or possession of ganja at the event, or transporting ganja to the event, as long as they have complied with the amounts and conditions specified in the order declaring it an exempt event."
There was acknowledgement that a relaxed approach to marijuana use at Rebel Salute has long preceded the official clearance, as Golding, who was the launch's guest speaker, handed the relevant letter to Tony Rebel. "What has been going on informally can now go on legitimately," Golding said to Rebel, to laughter from the persons who filled the room.
In his turn at the microphone as a speaker, Tony Rebel announced a line-up on which Friday, January 15, dubbed Singers' Paradise, includes Nesbeth, Mykal Rose, Sanchez, Luciano, LUST, Richie Spice, The Congos, The Heptones, Christopher Martin, Tony Gregory, Bugle, Gem Myers, and himself.
On the following night, David 'Mavado' Brooks, Junior and Juju Reid, Half Pint, Queen Ifrica, I-Octane, Macka B, and Uprising Roots Band will be among the performers.
In terms of smoking marijuana at the event Tony Rebel, who is not a marijuana smoker, said, "I always tell people who are there to use the Bob Marley's philosophy - 'Excuse me while I light my spliff'."
As there are more than 25,000 uses of marijuana, Rebel said, "Those who have never seen weed yet, we will have lots of it."