Lamb’s Bread (Or Lambsbread) Not ‘Lamb’s Breath’

None other than Bob Marley himself explained to High Times about ‘Lamb’s bread’ and what this name really means.

Bob Marley: One time I was in Jamaica, was doin’ a show, an’ a man come up to me, and he gave me a spliff. Now, das de bes’ herb I ever smoke. Yeah, man! Neva get an extra herb like dat again! No, no, no. Just like one tree in de earth, y’know?

High Times: Just one tree?

BM: Jus’ one tree. Sometimes ya just find a tree. It lamb’s bread.

HT: What’s lamb’s bread?

BM: De ability what de herb ‘ave ya call lamb’s bread. Some a dem ya call Bethlehem’s bread. Dat is when ya really get good herb, y’know what I mean?

The Lamb here is Jesus, the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei). ‘Lamb’s bread’ is evidently a Rasta epithet for (good) ganja, used sacramentally. Pretty likely names such as this are as old as Rastas.

Seems the idea ‘Lamb’s bread’ is or was a specific strain is yet another example of how decades of modern hybrid and seedbank culture have totally skewed people’s perspective on traditional cannabis cultures.

No less misleading is an article from Amanda Fielding of the Beckley Foundation talking about ‘the famous Jamaican strain “Lamb’s Bread”, which was named after Bob Marley’s song, but is actually a product of hybridisation with “Skunk#1” imported from Holland in the late 70s early 80s.’

If there’s a track with that name by Bob Marley, it’s news to me. There’s no chance Skunk No. 1 seed was coming from Holland to Jamaica in the late 70s early 80s, as ‘Sam Skunkman’ didn’t bring his and Mel Frank’s strains to Amsterdam until c. ’84 or ’85.

Anyway, my guess – and it is nothing more than a guess – is this ‘Lamb’s breath’ thing (which I’ve only ever heard from US and Canada) started because of foreigners mishearing Caribbean accents. That at least chimes with responses from people who knows these places much better than I do.

For specific Biblical origins, this is the verse that gets referenced by aficionados. I have no idea if this in fact a source, and I imagine Rastas who could settle this give the Internet a wide berth.

Leviticus 23:18And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord.

My two cents would be the Christian Eucharist (Holy Communion, Mass etc.) itself is far more likely the most important influence here, rather than this specific verse. Though, again, this is just a guess. Either way, I’m very doubtful the name ‘Lamb’s breath’ is of Caribbean origin.

The photo shows Peter Tosh in a field of what appear to be real Caribbean ganja domesticates. My impression is that hybrids didn’t start to trash Jamaican biodiversity comprehensively until commercial indoor cultivation took the UK by storm around the turn of the Millennium. Tosh died in 87, so it’s very unlikely the plants pictured have been affected by Indica-type plants.

According to Jamaican scientist Machel Emanuel, ‘The island of Jamaica has been impacted by hybridisation over the past 30 – 20 years.’ This fits with my own experience of visiting the region in the early 90s, when Kingston was the only place I encountered modern hybrids (‘chronic’). Elsewhere, in places such as Guyana, all I saw was real traditional ganja. Anecdotally, authentic Caribbean herb was also available in the UK and Canada until c. 2000, after which imports from Jamaica quickly turned to trash.

‘Proving’ authenticity in such a situation – i.e. decades after the event – is of course impossible. But overstating how early or extensively modern hybrids impacted regions of traditional cultivation and biodiversity has been the status quo. Experts too often do this or give flimsy claims undue credence.

Regarding places I know fairly well, i.e. Asia, the widespread unfounded claim that traditional domesticates were all wiped out at source decades ago is typical of Westerners simply not knowing places such as the Hindu Kush, South or Southeast Asia sufficiently well – if at all – and instead relying on hearsay and factoids. Few folks writing about landraces know the regions or cultures in anything like adequate depth to support such grand proclamations. To those of us who have lived or were born in these places, that much is painfully obvious.

Asserting that landraces are long since extinct at source  – as a number of experts have done, clearly without actually knowing this to be the case – is pretty irresponsible.