Antigua and Barbuda grants Rastafari sacramental rights to grow cannabis
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Antigua and Barbuda grants Rastafari sacramental rights to grow cannabis

Antigua-Barbuda is one of the Caribbean’s first countries to allow Rastafari to smoke and grow cannabis, a herb that is considered sacred by Rastafari. According to the Associated Press, the lifting of the ban makes the country “one of the first Caribbean nations to grant Rastafari authorization to grow and smoke their sacramental herb.” According to the Associated Press the lifting of the prohibition makes the country one of the first Caribbean countries to grant Rastafari permission to grow and smoke the sacramental plant. The Associated Press reported in 2021 that adherents “clambered for a broader relaxation” to curtail persecution and to ensure freedom of religion. The beliefs are a blend of Old Testament teachings with a desire to return home to Africa. Rastafari adherents believe that marijuana is referred to in biblical passages, and that it induces a meditative condition. The faithful use it as a sacrament, smoking it in chalice pipes and cigarettes called “spliffs,” adding it to vegetarian stews, or burning it in fires. The Jamaican marijuana, or ‘Ganja’, is a long-standing tradition in the country and predates Rastafari. Indentured Indian servants brought the cannabis plant to Jamaica in the 19th century. It gained popularity as a medical herb. It began to gain wider recognition in the 1970s, when Rastafari, reggae and music icons Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and other prominent exponents of the faith, popularized the culture. Tosh’s 1976 song ‘Legalize It,’ is still a rallying call for those who want to legalize marijuana. Rastafari adherents, many of whom are Black, claim they have been subjected to racial profiling and religious discrimination by law enforcement agencies because of their ritualistic use cannabis. The Associated Press reported that “the island government also decriminalized the use of marijuana for the general public,” according to the AP. It also allowed “people outside of faith [to] grow four cannabis plants each and possess up to 15 grams.”


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