“I see hemp fields forever growing wild and free, I see marijuana trees blowing in the breeze” These are Ziggy Marley’s words and music. Wild and Free is more than just a song, it has a deeper message; it’s about freedom.

Ziggy Marley is very outspoken on many subjects that affect the world and the people in it, but when it comes to hemp, perhaps you’d be surprised where he initially learned about hemp. “When I was a teenager, maybe 14 or 15 I found a book called The emperor wears no clothes, by Jack Herer. It really fascinated me. All I knew about the plant prior to that was the smoking culture, the Rastafarian culture; sacrament and spiritual uses. I didn’t know there were other uses for the plant and I was really intrigued by that.” I had to ask, if hemp and cannabis were legal to grow in your backyard, would you?

“Of course, what do you mean! Cannabis is an herbal remedy, a remedy for us the people. Cannabis in Jamaica is more than just smoking it; we used to drink it in teas and we used it to put into medicine rubs for aches and pains. Cannabis is a natural herb. When I was a small child we used it for many homemade remedies that had cannabis in it. It is another natural herb like mint or oregano.”

Ziggy spends much of his time touring, writing music and working with multiple charities that help thousands of people around the world on various levels. We discussed the importance of nutritional value that the plant has and its many uses as fabric.  “Not all my clothes are made of hemp, but I do have hemp clothing, I eat hemp seeds, hemp protein powder is also in my diet. As much of it as I can, I use it in my life.” I asked him how important it was to him to have hemp in his diet and good balance and he replies “it’s important for me to get plenty of physical fitness, good diet, and good mental and spiritual nutrition. When I perform, all that energy and what I put into my body comes out in the performance and it’s a much better show when I’m feeling good, so it’s very important.”

We got into the subject of hemp and cannabis prohibition and the forces behind the continued ignorance of this amazing plant. I asked what he believed to be the root of the problem and what can be done, he states very passionately “It’s a money reason, a business reason- there’s no moral or scientific reason- it’s a business reason why hemp and cannabis are prohibited, there is no other reason!” He adds: “The powers of many industries don’t want hemp to be re-grown in America; they have a lot of power with the federal government by having lobbying groups that I believe control the government, really.”

So, what can we do to make change in this country? What will it take? Will it take a state by state approach similar to medical cannabis and gay marriage to finally end this ridiculous waste of time and resources I asked? “Yes, I think the most important thing is to educate yourself and others about it, just like I did accidentally, when I found Jack’s book. I was really inspired and grateful to learn such things. Many people don’t have access to hemp materials itself, but they can access the knowledge, which is the most important. I think everybody can wear hemp t-shirts and clothing, it feels good, it’s good material, it breathes well and it is less stress on the environment to produce.”

One thing that you get to know early on about Ziggy, is that he’s not about being something he’s not, he’s very genuine. I asked what he thought about other celebrities and artists that hide their cannabis use, even though many of us know who does and doesn’t, yet they won’t admit it.  “I only speak the truth from my heart; I don’t hide the truth, because the truth that I know about this thing is that it is beneficial to human beings and human society. I am not walking around promoting myself as a big pot smoker, like smoke weed everyday or anything like that. That’s not what it’s about, anything can be misused. It’s about using nature in a beneficial way; we have to know how to use it, when to use it, and why we use it. I don’t care about what other celebrities or artists say either way about it, whatever they want to do, they should do. What’s in your heart? I know the truth of who I am. I’m not trying to get anyone to give me endorsements, so therefore I don’t hide who I am or what I believe.”

“Many children suffer all around the world from malnutrition. Hemp is relativity an easy plant to grow in many climates and is naturally resistant to insects. The thing is that hemp is so nutritional; it’s really the poor man’s plant, because it would help so many poor people around the world. It will bring new industries into poor countries.”

At the end of our conversation Ziggy said something that really stuck with me, he said “Give knowledge, share knowledge, it’s all about educating yourself and others.” He couldn’t be more correct.