Sunday 20 October, 2019

Lucian Rastafarians look to St Kitts victory in ganja fight

Burnet Sealy

Burnet Sealy

Rastafarians in Saint Lucia may follow the footsteps of their counterparts in Saint Kitts and Nevis, who now have the right to smoke marijuana in the privacy of their homes following a case brought against it by a Rastafarian of the twin-island federation.

That’s according to Burnet Sealy, chairman of the Caribbean Rastafarian Organization (CRO), in an interview with Loop News.

The case against the Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis was brought by Samande “Ras Iya” Reid, who represented himself against the Attorney General.

The landmark court ruling is not just for Rastafarians, but for anyone who uses marijuana in the privacy of their homes.

According to Sealy, who is also a member of the Iyonalo Council for the advancement of Rastafarians, if the Government of Saint Lucia does not amend the laws to allow them to smoke marijuana in the privacy of their homes, they will have no choice but to follow the footsteps of the Rastafarians in Saint Kitts and haul the government before the courts.

He said it was a campaign promise made a few years ago which needs to be honoured.

“If the government continues along that path we will take it before the courts in order to have the Dangerous Drug Act be amended,” Sealy said. He added that his only concern is that if the matter is taken to court it may be dragged on to frustrate them.

Sealy recalled that while on the campaign trail in 2016, both the now ruling United Workers Party (UWP) and the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) had promised them that if they won the elections, they would amend the law as it relates to cannabis. He added that they even spoke about expunging the records of those persons incarcerated for having small amounts of marijuana in their possessions.

“It’s three years since the UWP is in office and they have not done what they had promised us,” Sealy lamented.

Sealy is further annoyed that government has asked to be furnished with more information on cannabis before it can amend the laws to facilitate them.

“What information?” asks Sealy, adding that over the years they have provided the public, including government officials, with much information regarding cannabis.

“We have been in consultation with government for a while….and up to today we have not given up,” Sealy said.

As it relates to the reduction in raids police carry out on the blocks, Sealy said it is of no solace to them. “The police still destroy marijuana plantations and that is where the marijuana on the blocks come from."

In the meantime, Sealy is making a clarion call to government to make good on its promise and amend the Dangerous Drug Act, saying that time is running out on them. “What is required is that the laws be changed,” Sealy stressed.

He lamented that so far, he has not seen any sign of urgency on the part of government to change the laws.

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