The position of the Rastafarian community regarding marijuana will not change “unless the report recommends the Rastafari the liberty to cultivate as much marijuana as he wishes and possess as much as he wishes”, according to their representative, Attorney Wayne Munroe, QC.
Munroe made the comments following the revelation that the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana, in a preliminary report, recommends the legalization of medicinal marijuana and the decriminalization of the possession of up to one ounce of the substance. It also recommends the use of marijuana as a sacrament for Rastafarians.
“If they [the government] address the matter going forward and if they put a proposition, then we’ll have a look at it,” Munroe said yesterday, noting that he had not yet seen the preliminary report.
“If it’s acceptable to [my clients], they’ll say it’s acceptable; if it needs some changes, they’ll say it needs some changes, and we’ll put that to them.
“And if they don’t make the changes then, of course, the action, with regard to the use going forward, would still be active.”
He added, “If there is a special regime for Rastafarians, then I would need to speak to my clients and see if they find that acceptable.”
The Rastafarian group Munroe represents filed a writ in June for the right to use marijuana in their religious sacrament as well as the expunction of marijuana-related convictions from their criminal records. Attorney General Carl Bethel was named as the defendant.
Yesterday, Munroe told The Nassau Guardian that permitting Rastafarians use of marijuana is one matter, but that the legal action also deals with prior “damages”.
“A part of the action has to do with past oppression,” Munroe said.
“Simple possession records would’ve been expunged, because they come off anyway after six years.
“But damages. [Y]ou have to pay when you oppress someone. In some places they call them ‘reparations.’”
He also stated: “The Rastafarian position is they have a right to possess it under their religion. Their religion requires them to produce it for themselves and their religion does not put any limit.
“For instance, in some countries they’ll state a limit – you can have one ounce, two ounce, three ounces. [T]he Rastafarians’ religion isn’t limited like that.”
It is unclear when the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana report will be finalized.
Munroe confirmed in the meantime that the Rastafarian group is currently in the process of completing its statement of claim.