The Use of Marijuana in Indigenous Culture

In indigenous cultures, especially in Latin America, the use of marijuana has played a fundamental role for the community, both in medicinal terms and in the healing of illnesses, both physical and spiritual.

In indigenous communities, especially in the Andean region, which includes Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, most of these groups have long used the marijuana plant as an essential resource that cannot be dispensed with. In Colombia, indigenous communities in Nariño, Cauca, and Putumayo claim to have used marijuana and other plants that have not yet received legal approval to cure both physical ailments and spiritual problems. In the northern regions of Peru, bordering Ecuador, it is common to see products made from marijuana and coca, a very specific mixture worldwide, but very common in this country. Let's remember that in 2017, the Peruvian Congress approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, allowing the commercialization of products in a free manner.

Traditional practices related to the use and treatment of marijuana are an integral part of the ancestral customs of indigenous communities, which are threatened by the lack of legalization. Taita Efrén Tarapués, leader of the Pastos community of the "El Gran Cumbal" reservation, emphasizes that these traditions have always used marijuana for medicinal purposes and not for recreational use.

The indigenous leader emphasizes that the original communities used marijuana in a conscious way for healing, preservation of life and sustainability, in contrast to the way modern society has diverted its use to purposes harmful to human beings.

In addition, Taita Tarapués points out that there are other plants, such as brugmansia and coca leaf, that have not yet been legalized and are considered sacred in his territories to alleviate the suffering of terminally ill patients.

Spiritual healing with marijuana

Most indigenous communities use cannabis for medicinal purposes, but cannabis usually has another use, which is spiritual healing.

In general, the use of cannabis has a spiritual and healing effect. This was explained by Paurito Boena, a young man who belongs to the community of the indigenous reservation of Nariño, who said: "In general, there are good and bad charms on a spiritual level, they are energies that we do not see but that we feel and that are often reflected in the discomfort of illness, unlucky days or even pacts made with a person through a spell performed by a third party. There are many causes, and marijuana cures these diseases". He explained that the effects of marijuana and its smoke create a protective field against these energies. "Yes, marijuana has been used by our ancestors as a multifunctional tool; it helps with physical wounds, but also spiritually, allowing a field of protection to be created against bad energies that are transformed into diseases. Although the subject has become very controversial today, modern indigenous communities have tried to separate the ancestral from the legal," Paurito said.

Marijuana as a channel of spiritual communication

Within the indigenous community, marijuana has been used as a tool for direct mystical communication with the spirits. Efrén, leader of the Pastos community, clarified that "for many generations, the use of this plant has been for sacred and healing purposes. We do not consider the plant harmful, nor do we use it for recreational purposes. Here it is used to talk to souls, to heal bad energies and to heal physical pain in our community.

He also explained the healing and immediate benefits of medicines made from marijuana. "We see marijuana as a sacred plant; it heals you, it relieves pain, but more than that, it connects you to the spirits. We don't agree that there should be restrictions on the use of this plant for generations. It brings benefits to our community. We do not have doctors or hospitals here. We try to use our ancestral knowledge in one way or another to help with difficult illnesses, and miraculously we have had excellent results, and we have followed the indications of the spirits by using the knowledge in the best way," the community leader concluded.

For most indigenous communities, the use of marijuana has positive effects and allows them to communicate with spirits, heal evil energies and support society. Now, in the heart of the department of Cauca, Colombia, which produces almost all of the country's illegal marijuana, legal cannabis is being produced for medicinal and scientific use.

The news is twofold, because those who will produce it are members of the Isak indigenous community of the department, which in 2020 became the first indigenous community to be granted a license to grow the plant by the Ministry of Justice. Now they hope that their knowledge will be one of the main pillars for the legalization of the plant for medicinal, cultural and ancestral purposes.