While expressing support for members of the Rastafarian community, former Attorney General Alfred Sears, QC, said yesterday the Bahamian constitution grants them the right to use marijuana as their sacrament.
“The constitution guarantees every person in this country the freedom to practice their faith, their religion, and the Rastafari should have the same right as a Catholic, as a Baptist, because it is their faith,” Sears told The Nassau Guardian.
“I think that the constitution doesn’t distinguish. It talks about the right to practice one’s faith. I mean it’s right there. It’s a specific provision of the constitution and I certainly support the Rastafari movement in that they ought to be allowed, just like alcohol which is certainly consumed in my church. I am a Catholic. Alcohol is regulated and so should marijuana.”
Last week, it was revealed that members of the Rastafarian community were considering suing the government for the right to cultivate, possess and supply marijuana as a sacrament.
According to a June 3 letter sent to Attorney General Carl Bethel and Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands from Munroe & Associates, attorneys for the Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress, the government was given 10 working days to respond or legal action would commence.
The deadline for response expired on June 20.
The Guardian understands that Wayne Munroe, QC, who represents the Rastafarian community, intends to file an action in the Supreme Court early next week.
Munroe has said, “I wrote the minister of health as the minister responsible for dangerous drugs and poison.
“Under the Dangerous Drugs Act, marijuana is a controlled substance not a prohibited substance.
“I wrote him on behalf of the Rastafarian Church because the consumption of Indian hemp is a sacrament to them, just like Eucharist is a sacrament to Anglicans and Catholics; and just as Anglicans and Catholics give underage children liquor during communion and that’s permitted because that’s a part of our faith.
“I wrote to him about making arrangements for Rastafari to cultivate, possess and supply their sacrament to their worshippers.”
The legalization of marijuana in The Bahamas has been a longstanding issue, but was reignited last year as other countries made major legislative shifts on the matter.
Following recommendations by the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana, which presented its report on the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana in the region, the government approved the formation of the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana.
On Monday, following the announcement of impending legal action by the Rastafarians, Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander said the lawsuit is a “slippery slope”, arguing that “it destroys the whole argument” on marijuana.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice