Article by Okoye Henry, The Jamaica Gleaner
Scores of Rastafarians protested in front of the Barnett Street Police Station in Montego Bay, recently, following an incident in which the police seized 10 pounds of ganja from an elderly Rastafarian who was on his way to a Nyahbingni celebration to mark the anniversary of the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I.
The placard-bearing Rastafarians, clad in their trademark red, green, and gold clothing, said that the action by the police was an “act of sacrilege” as it infringed on their right to use ganja as a religious sacrament.
“According to the amendment of the Drug Act last year, it
entitles Rastafari to the freedom to travel to Rastafari celebrations with herb,” said prominent Rastafarian leader Ras Iyah V, who is the co-chair of the Rastafari Administrative Council.
Iyah V said when he spoke to a deputy police inspector at the police station, he was shocked to learn that there was no record to suggest that the ganja in question had been taken away from the elderly Rastafarian.
“He is saying that he doesn’t have any knowledge or report. The herb is nowhere to be found,” said Iyah V, who also sits on the board of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA). “We are not naive. We know the herb was taken away to be sold because it is not here and there is no report as to what happened to the ganja.”