A Government Minister today threw his support behind the legalization of marijuana which will allow the Rastafarian community to use for religious purposes. Furthermore, he believes there is no harm in using a “little” of the drug.
The “firm” support came from Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod who suggested that Barbadians are now beginning to accept the use of cannabis and the medicinal benefits that can be derived.
“People are now beginning to accept the use of cannabis and its medicinal value because contemporary scientists and persons who are practitioners in the area of medicine they are now accepting, pharmacists are now accepting, it is now accepted by people from that fraternity. Some people will obviously accept it because it has economic value….
“I personally believe if you use a little marijuana no harm would be done to you as a result of using it. Therefore, I am a firm, undoubted supporter of allowing the Rastafarian faith to use marijuana for religious and ceremonial purposes,” he said.
Delivering the feature address for National Arbor Day at the National Botanical Gardens, Waterford, St Michael to an audience which included primary and secondary school students from across the island, the Minister said he is one Government Minister that fully supports the call to allow rastafarians the right to be able to use the herb in their practices.
“This is this Minister. I cannot speak for everyone [but] I hope one day that you would be able to do what you want to do freely as a form of you serving your religious purposes and you can use the ganja freely without reservation. I say that” he said to applause from members of the audience which also included some rastafarians.
Speaking to the media following his public statements the Member of Parliament for St Michael East said as other religions in Barbados are allowed to practice their religious customs so too should the members of the Rastafarian faith be allowed to as a legitimate religion.
“There are ceremonial aspects of their religion where they use things that are symbolic. Anglicans and the Christian community use the symbolism of the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to some extent some people may consider it a form of ritualism which I respect it as as a part of their ceremony. The Muslims have their own way of doing things and nobody cries out about it. Caribbean communities that should not be thinking in that manner, have not fully accepted Rastafari as a religious group as yet, that is because of the stigmatization that has been attached to Rastafari over the years and the use of cannabis itself,” he said.
The Minister said many persons still describe rastafari as a cult.
“Probably because of their black consciousness, their connection with Africa and Haile Selassie and their strong connection to Marcus Garvey and so on, a lot of people believe they should continue to describe the rastafarian community as a cult which it is not. Rastafari can be seen as a genuine religion and if they use cannabis for sacramental purposes then I personally believe they should be allowed to do that,” he said.