Some Rastafarian groups in Antigua and Barbuda can now freely grow cannabis for sacramental use after three Rastafarians were granted sacramental authorisation to grow cannabis by Gaston Browne, the country’s prime minister, on Wednesday (March 8).
In an effort to strengthen the government’s relationship with the Rastafarian community, the Browne Administration granted certification from the Medicinal Cannabis Authority to Glasford ‘King Sagyefo’ Mack of the Nyabinghi Theocracy Church, Kiyode Erasto Straker of the RasFreeman Foundation for the Unification of Rastafari, and Kenrick Lloyd of the Wan Love Chant.
The Rastafarian men can now grow cannabis for religious use, which is in keeping with the 2018 Cannabis Act that allows individuals in religious groups to register with the Medicinal Cannabis Authority to grow and distribute cannabis for sacramental use.
“No group of individuals, based on their economic standing, their belief or religious practices… should be marginalised in this country,” Browne said.
The Act allows the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants to be used for religious purposes and permits the possession of a maximum of 15 grams of cannabis.
While urging the Rastafarian community to be resilient, Browne noted that there needs to be greater collaboration between the community and the government to help develop the cannabis industry to generate socioeconomic benefits.
He added: “One of the areas that we are very pleased … the Rastafari community is well vested, is agriculture and I am hoping that we can have a stronger relationship with the various organisations … to increase food production.”
He also noted that greater collaboration with the group can help to prevent youths from using cannabis.
The 2018 Cannabis Act prohibits persons under the age of 18 years to use cannabis for religious or other purposes.