The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda has granted Rastafari officials authorization to grow and consume cannabis as their faith considers the plant sacred, the Associated Press reports. In an interview with the AP, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the reforms are meant to prevent further discrimination of the Rastafari and bring respect to their culture and faith.
Browne noted that the nation has already decriminalized cannabis and legalized medical cannabis but wanted to take the next step – “to legalize the use of marijuana for sacramental purposes,” which he notes “most countries have not implemented.”
“We pride ourselves as an all inclusive government, and we believe that we have to provide a space for everyone at the table, irrespective of their religion. … We believe that we have to be inclusive, just as we have recognized other faiths, we think that it’s absolutely important for us to also ensure that the Rastafari faith is also acknowledged, and they too should be given the opportunity to worship.” — Browne to the AP
Browne said that the nation has also “created a space for a form of reparatory justice for Rastafari,” including waving fees for cannabis companies owned by Rastafari.
“When you look at Rastafari within the Caribbean for the last several decades … they were castigated or brutalized or killed, and they stood their ground to the extent that many of their practices are now being embraced globally,” Browne said in the interview. “Who would expect that there’d be a global movement today to move towards the decriminalization and certainly the legalization of marijuana or cannabis globally? And I think that the Rastafari movement in the Caribbean should take credit for that global development.”
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