When the Attorney General of Barbados first announced a bill was being drafted to allow for the use of cannabis for sacramental use by Rastafari, many hailed it as a victory and a step in the right direction by this administration.
Today, after the Sacramental Cannabis Bill 2019 was read by many, including myself, a good majority of us are feeling disgusted, angry, disrespected, slighted certainly offended to the highest level to put it mildly. However an opportunity is now created for further public discourse on cannabis, sacrament and Rastafari.
While many of us expected that proposed sacramental bill would come with challenges, no one could have foreseen this level of disrespect to the Rastafari community embedded in the document.
This article will share with the reader some of the thinking penned in this document that has brought about the plethora of adjectives used in the second paragraph of this article.
- ” Use of Cannabis as a sacrament – A person who is an adherent of the Rastafarian religion shall in the
enjoyment of his freedom of religion be permitted to use cannabis as a sacrament in an assembly of or in association with other Rastafarians in a place of worship in accordance with the provisions of this Act.” The question is asked here, what signifies a place of worship and how is worship defined? The bill defines a place of worship as, ” any premises and the buildings thereon used as a place of worship for adherents of the Rastafarian religion.” Clearly the first building that must be signified as a place of worship is a persons home. However, for Rastafari places of worship for quiet meditation and introspection while seeking divine guidance can include a spring, the beach, or a park. Muslims pray several times a day. They do this wherever that time of day meets them.
- The bill does not define worship and quite rightly so. How can you define how someone worships. The 12 Tribes Of Israel a Rastafari organization/mansion host a reggae dance once a month. I always tell people who accompany me to this dance that this a form of worship for me. The dance is my prayer. As David danced before the Lord, Rastafari also dances. Therefore our dances must be seen as places and times of worship.
- ” A person who is responsible for the administration or management of a place of worship may apply to the Minister for the grant of a sacramental use permit to allow persons of that religious body to use cannabis for sacramental purposes at that place of worship.” Problems! I know that the Priests and Priestesses of the Order of the Nyahbinghi Theocracy Reign will not take kindly to being asked to make an application to the “minister” to use sacrament within their groundations.
- Sacramental use permit – “A permit granted under section 4(2) grants permission for the cultivation and harvesting of cannabis plants on the premises of the place of worship for the sacramental use of persons who attend that place or worship; the possession, preparation or processing of the cannabis for sacramental use at the place of worship; the smoking or other sacramental use of cannabis at the place of worship; and the storage, destruction, or disposal of cannabis at the place of worship.” Should place of worship include a persons home this part of the bill is non-contentious.
- The permit granted under section 4(2) shall not allow the transportation of cannabis to and from the place of worship; the possession, or supply of cannabis outside of the place of worship; or the growth of cannabis in close proximity to any school.” While the prohibiting of growing of cannabis in close proximity to a school is reasonable, Rastafari brothers and sisters of the Nyahbinghi bring cannabis from their homes to be placed on the alter of the tabernacle for the use of everyone. They also bring cannabis to the gatherings for their personal use. This bill as proposed, does not take this into consideration.
I will have to continue this review of the proposed Sacramental Cannabis Bill 2019 in another article as much is to be said about this document. Let us not forget the issue now is not cannabis per say but one of human rights.
How does one legislate regulations to govern a person’s human rights in such a way that those human rights can be taken away?