Rastas, Russians and the Herb
Until the 1970s, marijuana was not used much in Russia. Alcohol was Russia’s national drug, and ganja was only used in the “wild” Asian republics. Average Russians considered ganja smoking as something alien and strange.
The situation changed during the 1970s, as the echo of the hippie movement came to the USSR, and the immigration of Asians into Russia increased. Pot became popular among Russian “bohemia”, providing the chance to stand out against a grey background of gloomy compatriots.
Marijuana remained a “bohemian drug” for a long time, but in the last decade it has seen skyrocketing popularity. In 1992 most young people knew what “grass” was, and everybody was acquainted with a couple of tokers. By 1995 almost all of the participants of my extempore polls had inhaled marijuana at least once. Today it’s very difficult to find a young Russian who has never smoked ganja.
Many of Russian pot smokers call themselves “the Rastas”. But it is hard to find real Rastas in Russia. There is a so-called “Rasta movement” in Russia, but it includes only a small part of the Rasta religion – pot smoking and related activities. Russians who calls themselves “Rastas” are mostly former hippies who decided that they needed some kind of idea to smoke for. Outward attributes; such as dreadlocks, red-yellow-green garments and self-identifying as participants of a popular movement are most attractive for such people.