Rastas win legal leeway

Right to smoke pot as part of religious faith

Editorial Staff
July 24, 2008

Italy's Court of Cassation recently ruled that Rastafarians can possess ‘abundant' quantities of marijuana because according to their faith smoking it is a religious sacrament. Now it is up to an appellate court in Florence to review the case.


The ruling was made in response to an appeal advanced by an Italian Rastafarian and reggae musician against a tough sentence inflicted by a Perugia court in 2004, when he was found in possession of 50 grams of weed, enough to roll 70 joints. The Perugia court sentenced him to one year and four months in jail in addition to a 4,000-euro fine for alleged drug trafficking.


However, Italy's supreme court overturned the Perugia sentence, stating that although the defendant had more than what is considered the limit for personal use, as a Rastafarian he is allowed to smoke up to 10 grams of marijuana a day. ‘He was convicted because of the amount ... for trafficking, but it was for his own personal use', said the man's defence lawyer, Caterina Calia.


Rastas believe that marijuana grew on the tomb of King Salomon and that by smoking it they can draw strength from his wisdom. They also consider it to be a sacrament that cleanses the mind and body, heals the soul, enhances consciousness and facilitates peacefulness, as well as bringing pleasure.


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