Aaron Alexander, the former chairman of the Iyanola Council for the Advancement of Rastafari, has said the Saint Lucia Rastafarian community should follow in the footsteps of a colleague in St. Kitts-Nevis and take the government to court in connection with the decriminalisation of marijuana.
“Antigua is going ahead, Jamaica is going ahead, look Barbados recently announced that they going ahead. All the other islands going ahead and we just behind. I don’t know what’s going on with this government, they don’t know what they are about,” he told MBC.
Alexander was commenting on the recent case in St. Kitts-Nevis in which High Court Judge Eddy Ventose ruled that Rastafarians have a right to smoke in the privacy of their homes, as part of their religion, and gave the Timothy Harris administration 90 days to comply with the landmark ruling which affects at least two provisions of the Drugs Act, pertaining to possession and cultivation of the herb.
The St. Kitts-Nevis government was hauled before the courts by a lone Rastafarian, Samande “Ras Iya” Reid, who represented himself. According to news reports, Ventose’s ruling will most likely have implications for persons who are awaiting trial, serving time and were convicted under the two provisions of the Drug Act. The ruling also pertains to anyone who uses marijuana in the privacy of their home.
Commenting further on the court ruling in the twin-island federation, Alexander said Rastarians using marijuana as their sacrament is a “basic fundamental human right”. He said this is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, accusing the Saint Lucia government of violating the rights of the Rastafarian community “for a long time now”.
Alexander pointed out that the Rastafarian community in Saint Lucia has considered taking legal action against the government over the years, but he said now is perhaps the right time to go ahead considering the ruling in St. Kitts-Nevis, which will have implications for future cases in other Caribbean jurisdictions.
“So maybe that is a route that we have to take as Rastafari in Saint Lucia, is to embarrass the government, bring them to court because we know it is our basic right to use the cannabis and we know we will win, so we remain confident in the victory of good over evil and we know our cause is a right cause, our cause is a just cause and our cause is something that we can fight for. And just like in St. Kitts, the mighty government lost, you know to a simple Rasta man. Do you know it shows that even in the 21st century David will still beat Goliath,” Alexander said.
He suggested that past and present governments are taking the local Rastafari community for a joke.
“I mean we’ve gone through commission after commission. Michael Gordon was the chairman of one of the commissions set up by this current administration. I mean we approached Kenny Anthony, he was prime minister. He said that he waiting to see what Jamaica is going to do. Jamaica went ahead and decriminalized, Kenny Anthony caved. Look now Allen Chastanet, now he put a commission in place headed by Michael Gordon. Michael Gordon had to resign because the commission was given absolutely no funding to carry out it works and they did not give the government a report at the end of the day,” he added.