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(SNO) — With the controversy over the legalization of marijuana continuing unabated, the Rastafarian community in Saint Lucia is now calling for an apology for prosecution because of the herb.
Marijuana has been culturally entrenched in the Rastafari movement since it began in the 1930s and is considered sacred , and is often referred to as the wisdom weed or holy herb.
Representatives of the Iyanola Council for the Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR) and Cannabis Movement said Rastafarians have been incarcerated and abused because the weed is presently illegal in Saint Lucia.
They met with the Council of Ministers earlier this week and it was agreed that is a need to improve the framework for the legalization of the weed.
They also said that forgiveness is important for the healing of Rastafarians.
“Families are being destroyed because of this,” a representative from the group, Aaron ‘Ras Iron’ Alexander said at a press briefing this week. “So there is a need for reparatory justice for the Rastafari community. Rastafarians have been killed, Rastafarians have been blooded, jailed for many years, some of them have been charged exorbitant fees — $100,000 — for having five dollars possession of cannabis.”
He stated that the Rastafari community has suffered the brunt of the illegality of marijuana in Saint Lucia.
“There is a need for an apology to the Rastafari community,” he stated.
Alexander pointed out it is a matter of human right for Rastafaris to practice their religion freely without fear.
“When we have our tabernacle, when we have our different religious celebrations, etc, we always have that fear, that cloud hanging over our head that the police could bust us at anytime, come there and arrest everybody for cannabis and so on,” he noted. “So we cannot have people living in fear like this.”
He argued that the UN Human Rights Declaration on Religious Freedom gave Rastafaris the right to practice their religion.
He said representatives of the group met with the ministers “to claim that freedom as well”.