Ras­tas want un­re­stricted ganja use

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Na­dine Wil­son-Har­ris Staff Reporter na­dine.wil­son@glean­erjm.com

MORE THAN a year af­ter the use of ganja as a sacra­ment was made legally per­mis­si­ble, Rasta­far­ian priests across Ja­maica are still wait­ing for the state to reg­is­ter their churches so that they can freely utilise the herb as part of their wor­ship with­out re­stric­tions.

But de­spite the de­lay, sev­eral Rasta­far­i­ans came to­gether re­cently to launch an in­dige­nous mar­i­juana com­pany which will be aimed at re­search­ing, de­vel­op­ing and com­mer­cial­is­ing ‘sacra­men­tal ganja’. The group de­scribes sacra­men­tal ganja as pure Cannabis sa­tiva ganja that has no ad­di­tives and is grown un­der spir­i­tu­ally clean con­di­tions.

The com­pany, Rasta Ganja Global Ltd, was regis­tered in Ja­maica and South Africa in Septem­ber 2015, and is ex­pected to help the Rasta­far­ian com­mu­nity tap into the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar sacra­men­tal in­dus­try which al­lows com­mu­ni­ties to get ac­cess to re­li­gious goods and ser­vices.

Se­nior le­gal of­fi­cer at the Min­istry of Jus­tice, Karen Wil­son, con­firmed that the min­istry has re­ceived ap­pli­ca­tions from those want­ing their wor­ship cen­tres to be des­ig­nated as places of Rasta­far­ian wor­ship, which would al­low them to en­joy the ben­e­fits ex­tended to Rasta­far­i­ans un­der the 2015 Danger­ous Drugs (Amend­ment) Act.

“Due to the change of ad­min­is­tra­tion, it has be­come nec­es­sary to ap­point a new re­view board to con­sider these ap­pli­ca­tions. We will, there­fore, be re­spond­ing to the ap­pli­cants as soon as pos­si­ble,” she told The Sun­day Gleaner.

GROWTH FOR RAS­TAS

Max­ine Stowe, who is one of the di­rec­tors of Rasta Ganja Global Ltd, is op­ti­mistic that giv­ing priests the free­dom to ad­min­is­ter the use of mar­i­juana in their wor­ship ser­vices could result in more Rasta­far­i­ans join­ing these places of wor­ship once they have been ap­proved by the Gov­ern­ment.

She said the group re­mains op­ti­mistic that the ap­pli­ca­tions

for the wor­ship cen­tres will be ap­proved, given com­mit­ments from the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Most peo­ple who think they are Rasta­far­i­ans now, they think of it mainly through go­ing to a reg­gae show, that is what is ex­pressed be­cause that is what is al­lowed,” said Stowe.

“I know that a lot of per­sons who are Rasta­far­i­ans don’t ex­hibit any of the out­ward iden­ti­fiers be­cause they don’t want to have the prej­u­dice at­tached to them,” she added, point­ing to the fact that for years Rasta­far­i­ans faced per­se­cu­tion for us­ing ganja, which is an im­por­tant part of their wor­ship.

Like Stowe, Robert Mogg feels more per­sons will join the Rasta­far­ian faith once the churches are regis­tered and the priests are al­lowed to ad­min­is­ter the sacra­ment with­out re­stric­tions. Mogg, who is the gen­eral sec­re­tary for the Ethio-Africa Di­as­pora Union Mil­len­nium Coun­cil Ltd, said the launch of the com­pany was to send a mes­sage that the use of ganja as a sacra­ment

should be gov­erned by the priests.

“Once you have lifted the re­stric­tions, there is go­ing to be an ex­pec­ta­tion of in­flux of those com­ing in be­cause the re­stric­tions are lifted,” he said.

“Be­cause of the pro­hi­bi­tion of the ganja, a lot of bru­tal­ity was done to Rasta. They trimmed them and all those things, so a lot of Ras­tas went un­der­cover, so now that how the re­stric­tions are lifted some­what and a sacra­men­tal rights is is­sued, I am cer­tain you are go­ing to have a lot of those com­ing from un­der that lev­els of cloak, and it will ben­e­fit the Rasta­fari com­mu­nity.”

Wil­son said that while an or­der can be granted for the sacra­men­tal cul­ti­va­tion of mar­i­juana, it can­not be com­mer­cialised or sold. The Cannabis Li­cens­ing Au­thor­ity (CLA) is re­spon­si­ble for grant­ing li­cences for re­search, de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of ganja. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the CLA said last week that the au­thor­ity is yet to start grant­ing li­cences.

I know that a lot of per­sons who are Rasta­far­i­ans don’t ex­hibit any of the out­ward iden­ti­fiers be­cause they don’t want to have the prej­u­dice at­tached to them.

NOR­MAN GRINDLEY/CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

Igel takes a puff from a ganja pipe at the Trench Town Cul­ture Yard, af­ter a march through the Cor­po­rate Area in sup­port of the le­gal­i­sa­tion of mar­i­juana.

RUDOLPH BROWN/PHOTOGRAPHER

Neville ‘Ras Bunny Wailer’ Liv­ingston (left) of Nyah­binghi An­cient Coun­cil; Binghi Irie Lion – Priest Wil­liam Holmes (cen­tre) of Nyah­binghi An­cient Coun­cil; and Ras Den­roy Mor­gan (right) of Abra­hamic Min­istries speak at the launch of the Rasta Ganja Global Ltd meet­ing at the Trench Town Mul­ti­pur­pose Cen­tre, on Fifth Street (off Col­lie Smith Drive).

Sis­ter Max­ine Stowe speaks with Ras Bunny Wailer (left) of the Nyah­binghi An­cient Coun­cil, while Priest Enoch Brown (cen­tre) of Ethio Africa Black In­ter­na­tional Congress and Ras Den­roy Mor­gan (right) of Abra­hamic Min­istries also take part in the launch of the Rasta Ganja Global Ltd.

Ras Den­roy Mor­gan (cen­tre) of Abra­hamic Min­istries speaks while Priest Enoch Brown (left) of Ethio Africa Black In­ter­na­tional Congress and Robert ‘Prophet Greg’ Mogg lis­ten.

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