Days after ex-parliamentarian Hamilton Lashley welcomed the news that Government was seeking to accommodate the ritual use of marijuana by Rastafarians, he now appears to have sided with some of the faith who question the need for a permit.
Lashley now says that instead of forcing Rastafari to acquire a special licence to use the herb as a sacrament, Government should seriously look at legalising recreational marijuana.
In a Barbados TODAY interview on Wednesday, the former MP for St Michael South East, said he considered what is currently being proposed as a “backward move”.
“This legislative limited use of marijuana for sacramental purposes only is equivalent in my view to the proverbial stork and the pitcher. It is there but you really can’t, in a sense, have the freedom to use it because my understanding now is that you would have to apply to get a licence to use it.
“I feel that Government should really sit down again with the Rastafarian community like what they did previously and have an entire review of what is being legislated,” Lashley said.
He said a section of the dreadlocked faith had indicated to him that they were not pleased with Attorney General Dale Marshall’s announcement that the State is to impose certain parameters since the herb is still prohibited.
Leading off the debate on the Sacramental Cannabis Bill in the House of Assembly last Friday, the Attorney General said that Rastafarians would be allowed to grow their own marijuana “sufficient for their use” in the precincts of their places of worship and must seek an exempt permit if they wish to use the sacrament at any religious event away from the temple.
Marshall also said that home smoking of ganja would still be illegal and that Rastafarians would still be prohibited from selling marijuana grown for religious purposes.
Lashley argued that Rastafarians used marijuana for sacramental, medicinal and recreational purposes as part of what he described as their “wholesome lifestyle”.
He said: “I was happy when I heard the AG stood in Parliament and say that they would allow Rasta to use marijuana for worship.
“But of course, I am not happy with this. They can’t have it in their backyard, they can’t have it on their property. They got to grow it only on their place for worship and nowhere else.
“And to make things a lot worse for them, they have to get a licence to even grow it and obviously they can run afoul of the law if they don’t have the licence.”
If Government should eventually make the move to free up ganja for recreational use, Lashley agreed that certain parameters should be put in place.
The social activist recommended that smoking marijuana in public should be prohibited.
He declared: “Barbados has to take a look at what is happening across the region.
“If you look at what is happening in St Lucia and Antigua and the other islands in the Caribbean you would find there is a far more liberal approach than what is being done in Barbados.
“It seems to me that although we are an independent nation we are still trying to hang on to the whole colonial value that we must have control of everything.”
Several Rastafarians told Barbados TODAY on Tuesday that they would not be governed by the new rules they described as an insult to members of the faith.