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Why Is Che Guevara A Marijuana Icon?

If you've ever wandered into a marijuana man-cave, you've likely been greeted with the likenesses of Bob Marley, Cheech and Chong and Ernesto "Che" Guevara. But one of these things is not like the others.

The likeness of Guevara - who was born 88 years ago today - has graced marijuana bongs, grinders and bracelets. The iconic photograph of the Latin American revolutionary has also appeared alongside pot leaves in graffiti. And artists have portrayed him smoking joints on t-shirts and iPhone cases.

But the Argentine Marxist who fought in the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959) alongside Fidel Castro was not a marijuana advocate. He fought against colonialism and capitalism, but not marijuana prohibition. And although he was often seen smoking cigars despite his lifelong struggle with severe asthma, there are no pictures of him puffing joints, bongs or blunts.

Simply put, Che is a rebel without a cannabis cause. So why is he an icon in cannabis culture?

One plausible explanation is that Che's reputation as a rebel has eclipsed his specific causes. In a 2013 article for the cannabis website Ladybud, Amber Noel commented on the famous photo of Che saying, "this iconic image has reached the eyes of most people since it was first taken in 1960. This image has become a symbol of rebellion and dissent with many youth of today."

And the anonymous product reviewer for the cannabis news and culture website AZMarijuana seems to agree. While writing about a shirt featuring an image of Guevara with a joint superimposed between his lips, the reviewer said, "This eclectic hero, the Argentinean Marxist Che Guevara, has become the generic symbol for the underdog, the iconoclast, or the rebel willing to die for his cause."

Guevara would have opposed cannabis consumerism

And that's accurate insomuch as Guevara once cried "Patria o muerte" ("Homeland or death") while addressing the United Nations in 1964. But he certainly didn't say "Vive la cannabis" as the shirt reads.

And while his attitude toward marijuana is uncertain, there's little doubt that Guevera would oppose cannabis consumerism and the use of his likeness to sell paraphernalia.

As Noel wrote, "[Guevara's image] has become the opposite of what Che fought against, a capitalist money-making machine. While wearing a shirt with the likeness of Che may feel empowering or rebellious to many, his legacy is more often than not completely misunderstood. Most people who promote his likeness would probably disagree with his ideas and beliefs."

So unless you're fighting for marijuana legalization as a first step toward overthrowing the American government and planting the seeds of Marxism in the United States, it might be time to retire Che's likeness from your man cave.

h/t Telesur TV

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