Rastas can use cannabis, Italian court rules

By bubbly nubs · Jul 11, 2008 · ·
  1. bubbly nubs
    Rasta pot smokers win high court fight

    ROME (Reuters) - Rastafarians caught in possession of marijuana in Italy may now have legal recourse, thanks to a high court ruling made public on Thursday.

    Italy's Court of Cassation ruled that since the Rastafari religion considers marijuana a sacrament, its members should be given special consideration when it comes to possession -- and how much makes a drug trafficker.
    The case before the judges dealt with a reggae musician who was sentenced to 16 months in prison by a lower court in Perugia after being found in possession of enough marijuana to roll 70 cigarettes.
    The Court of Cassation annulled his sentence, saying the amount appeared appropriate for personal use considering the heavy amounts that Rastafarians smoke, and ordered an appellate court in Florence to review the case.
    "He was convicted because of the amount ... for trafficking, but it was for his own personal use," said the defendant's lawyer, Caterina Calia.
    Rastafari, a religion that emerged in Jamaica in the 1930s, considers Ethiopia its spiritual home and that country's former emperor, Haile Selassie, a divine figure.
    Up to 10 percent of Jamaicans identify themselves as Rastas, but they are virtually unheard of in Roman Catholic Italy.
    (Reporting by Phil Stewart)


    Share This Article


  1. Nature Boy
    Re: Rasta pot smokers win high court fight

    Allowances in the name of religion, what a crock of shit. It would be a lot fairer to just decriminalise user amounts of cannabis but I suppose faith issues will always be placed ahead of pragmatic reasoning.
  2. Alfa
    Rastas can use cannabis, Italian court rules

    By Peter Popham in Rome
    Saturday, 12 July 2008

    Rastafarians have always regarded Ethiopia as the promised land, but Italy could rank a close second after its Supreme Court ruled that smoking or possessing cannabis is not a criminal offence but a religious act when the person doing it is a Rastafarian.

    Last year, the same court declared that cultivating even a single cannabis plant was a punishable offence. But now Italy's Court of Cassation has said Rastafarians use marijuana "not only as a medical but also as a meditative herb. And, as such [it is] a possible bearer of the psychophysical state to contemplation and prayer".

    Release, the London-based drugs information service, said that the ruling was a European first.

    The case was brought by a man in his forties from Perugia who was sentenced to 16 months in jail plus a €4,000 (£3,000) fine in 2004 for possession of 97g of marijuana. The Supreme Court said the court of first appeal had failed to consider that the man, a Rastafarian, smoked marijuana according to the precepts of his religion, which, the judges said, permits the smoking of 10g per day. Rastafarians smoke the drug, said the court, "with the memory and in the belief that the sacred plant grew on the tomb of King Solomon".

    The government is livid. The judgment "shatters the laws which forbid and proscribe penal sanctions for" the use of illegal drugs, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

    Right-wing politicians were scathing. Senator Maurizio Gasparri said: "Today we learn a Rasta is free to go around with drugs. If somebody belonged to a religion which permitted them to eat their children, would they give them the go-ahead, too?"

    But the verdict was received with joy at Rototom Sunsplash, Europe's biggest festival of reggae music, near Udine, in north-east Italy. "Finally the principle of religious pluralism is beginning to make headway," Filippo Giunta, president of the festival, said. "This judgment ... underlines again the difference between this substance and so-called 'hard' drugs, alcohol included."
  3. sunyata
    Re: Rasta pot smokers win high court fight

    I see it more as getting the foot in the door, and imagine how the big religious organizations will react if they start to see a great conversion of young people to rastafarianism, shivaism and other religions that allows, or even proscibes you to use certain substances.
    If the catholic church suddenly favors legalization we can all just sit back and smoke a fat one in a short while.
  4. Nature Boy
    Re: Rasta pot smokers win high court fight

    It is a foot in the door of sorts but it just sickens me to see people using the religious card...yet again! Why do we need to take these channels in order to bring about change? The sheer inconsistency and discrimination (yes, it is discrimination!) of such a law is insulting. I'd liken it to hate crimes. A crime is a crime, you can't make these little subjective alterations. That defeats the whole purpose of laws and rules in the first place.
  5. Coconut
    Re: Rasta pot smokers win high court fight

    I agree. I don't see why, if SWIM lived in Italy, he wouldn't be allowed to consume cannabis but Rastafarians would. SWIM considers cannabis - as well as all drugs - to be a sacrament, not to some silly deity but to himself and his mind. Discrimination is the only way to describe it.

    You have to take into account that drugs laws are inherently inconsistent and contradictory though.
  6. Nature Boy
    Re: Rasta pot smokers win high court fight

    Sacrament? Not really. Fuck it, we use drugs because we enjoy them. Why can't we just say that? People are so petty when it comes to recognising this but every motherfucker out there is at it whether they're getting high on their booze, pharms, pot or pious bullshit. Drug legalisation is feared because of socialised healthcare and insurance costs. Let's ban cheeseburgers too.
  7. sunyata
    While I agree that it´s hypocrytical to allow people to smoke for religious purposes, but not for "other" reasons, I really think you should see the opportunity in this.
    When the rastas are allowed to smoke a group of atheists must also demand to be allowed to smoke, if only to ease the constant idea of living in a godless, mechanistic universe. Or to celebrate it if they wish.
    I think it would be very hard for the governments to uphold very strict laws against cannabis if they were allowing rastafarians to smoke, up to 10 grams a day, no less.

    The legalization or decriminalization of cannabis will never happen with a scenario where the authorities go out and announce that they were wrong, that they are sorry for all the pain they´ve caused and smoke em if you got em. I think small steps like this one is the best we can hope for.

    And you have to agree that if this verdict is left standing it will be a very good card for whatever legalization movement Italy has.

    Personally i would never move there even if it was completely legalized. there´s something scary about a country that would not only elect, but also re-elect a man like Berlusconi. Twice, no less.
  8. Nature Boy
    You're right about small steps being the most realistic way forward at the moment but using religion as an excuse shows even more stupidity on the government's side. They're appeasing one form of bullshit: drug laws; with another piece of bullshit (IMO): religion. Plastic politics.
  9. enquirewithin
    Ratsas may get some more more freedom, but they are lucky they are not gypsies.

    Mussolini would have been proud.
  10. purplehaze
    Rastafarians are human right? This makes no sense. Rastas can smoke but Italians can't?
  11. Coconut
    Re: Rasta pot smokers win high court fight

    When I said sacrament I was phrasing in such a way that could allow for a comparison to the situation with the Rastafarians - their sacrament is allowed but SWIM's isn't?

    Of course people do drugs because they enjoy them or gain some insight from the experience. Otherwise nobody would take drugs and then where would we be?
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!