Day before yesterday I started my analysis of the proposed Sacramental Cannabis Bill 2019. Today I continue. As stated in my previous article , this bill is of great concern to many Rastafari brothers and sisters in Barbados and denounced by many more internationally.
Sacramental Cannabis Biil 2019 continued.
- Terms and conditions: “Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Minister may grant a sacramental use permit under this Act subject to such terms and conditions as the Minister considers necessary to secure the cannabis from public access and public visibility; to protect minors; or in the interest of public safety, public health or public morality. Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Minister may grant an exempt event permit under this Act subject to such terms and conditions as the Minister considers necessary to protect minors; or in the interest of public safety, public health or public morality.” While it is only natural that any Rastafari brother or sister cultivating cannabis will have it secured, the ‘Minister’ cannot be expected to dictate how this security should be organized. Added to this Rastafari know how to secure their own children in the best interest of their development. I am constantly being asked by those around me if the government would even consider imposing these conditions of conduct on the Roman Catholic or Anglican faiths.
- Securing premises: “A person who is granted a sacramental use permit shall implement such measures as the Minister shall specify in that permit to secure the cannabis on the premises of the place of worship in such a manner as to ensure that the cannabis is secured from public access and public visibility or in the public place,
as the case may be. A person who contravenes subsection is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10 000 or to a term of imprisonment of 2 years or to both.” This is madness! You first give offence by wanting to dictate where and when my sacrament has to be used, then if I do not adhere to their regulations and use my sacrament in an unauthorized space then I am harshly punished. Just think about what is being said here. You will fine or lock me up if I pray in the wrong place? Are you serious Mr. AG?
- Commercial purposes: “A person who attends a place of worship granted a sacramental use permit shall not
sell or offer for sale cannabis on the premises of that place of worship; sell or use in any commercial venture or for any commercial purpose cannabis grown at a place of worship; or attends an occasion for which an exempt event permit has been granted shall not sell or offer for sale cannabis at that event. A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10 000 or to a term of imprisonment of 2 years or to both.” The issue with the drafters of this bill is that they are equating the sacramental use of cannabis, with the sacramental use of bread and wine in the Christian church. For Rastafari cannabis is used in its totality under the banner of sacrament. This means it is used for meditation, and for the production of medicine/health care products. The economic value of the plant assists in the overall development and empowerment of the Rastafari community. In the early days of the Christian church, prophets and apostles frequently exhorted the people to do their part in building up the kingdom of God. This effort required both spiritual and temporal labor. In addition to such pursuits as praying, studying the scriptures, and sharing the gospel, the Saints built homes and cities, established public schools, cultivated and irrigated the hard soil. This physical work had an economic value. Likewise the government should not restrict Rastafari from empowering and developing their community with proceeds from the sale of Cannabis related products.
- Suspension or revocation of permits: “The Minister may suspend or revoke any permit granted and issued
under this Act where there is a breach of any provision of this Act; where there is a breach of any term or condition attached to the permit; or in the interest of public safety, public health or public morality.
Where the Minister suspends or revokes a permit he shall by instrument in writing notify the person in charge place of worship of the suspension or revocation and that the cannabis on the premises will be harvested and disposed of by the Commissioner of Police; and the Commissioner of Police of the suspension or revocation and request that he attend the premises and harvest and dispose of any cannabis thereon, and submit a report on the completion of the same. In the case of a suspension the Minister shall by the instrument in writing
issued under subsection (2) notify the person in charge of the place of worship of the time that the suspension will end.” I have asked the question before and I am asking it again, seeing that the AG has located the use of cannabis by Rastafari for sacrament as a HUMAN RIGHT, how does he expect to draft legislation that can take away this same HUMAN RIGHT, he says he cannot continue to violate?
- Offences: “No person shall transport cannabis to or from a place of worship unless this occurs on a date for which an exempt event permit has been granted; import cannabis into Barbados or export cannabis from Barbados for sacramental purposes; be in possession of, supply or handle cannabis outside of a place of
worship unless permitted to do so in accordance with the provisions of this Act; or permit or allow a minor to use cannabis as a sacrament. A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and is
liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10 000 or to a term of imprisonment of 2 years or to both.” To this I simply say Mr. AG ” For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”Matthew 18:20. You cannot attempt to define my place of worship Mr. AG.
The rest of the bill contains the forms whereby persons can apply for the various Sacramental Cannabis Licences. It is interesting that in the very first form given as an example in the bill ( Application for sacramental use permit) it says. ” List the full name of at least 5 people (other than applicant) who are principal officers, people involved in administration or management for this tabernacle, as well as their national identification number, residential address, home and cell number and email address?” All Rastafari brothers and sisters do not ground themselves in a tabernacle. Thus the vast majority of Rastafari in Barbados will not be permitted to legally use their sacrament based on how this bill is structured.
It is the opinion of Rastafari located within the African Heritage Foundation that the Sacramental Cannabis Bill 2019 needs much restructuring. It advises the government to extend letters of invitation to all Rastafari to meet in a forum akin to that of the Joint Select Committee. The AHF is reaching out to Brother Joe to stall the passing of this bill in parliament on Tuesday.
Paul Gibson, if you are seeing this please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Simba Simba President/Founder of the African Heritage Foundation. I advocate for empowering, developmental change, using African heritage and history as a guide. I am also a long standing member of the Rastafari community and an equal rights and justice advocate.
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