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‘We are tired of it’

St James Rastas march over right to possess ganja

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

MONTEGO BAY, St Jame — Scores of Rastafarians on Monday staged a peaceful demonstration in this resort town over the alleged seizure of 10 pounds of marijuana from one of their own by the police last week.

The flag-waving, drum-beating group assembled in front of the Barnett Streeet Police Station, displaying placards with claims of discrimination against their faith.

They said that the weed was to be used as a sacrament at an upcoming celebration.

But on Monday when they sought dialogue with the Barnett Street Police, they were informed that there was no record of the seizure.

"Over 10 pounds of herbs was taken away from him last week by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, a few chains from here (police station). It (ganja) was taken here to the Barnett Street Police Station," Ras Iyah V, chairperson of the Rastafari Administrative Council, complained.

Ras Iyah V claimed that this colleague, who was held, was relieved of the herb at the police station and set free.

"We figured it is our constitutional right to have herb in our possession," Ras Iyah V said.

They argued that, under Section 7 C(2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act amended last year, members of the Rastafarian faith cannot be charged for possession of ganja for religious purposes.

"We are saying for years upon years, I and I as Rastafari have been going through persecution for herbs. Now with the amendment, I and I expected that would have been changed," the Rastafari Administrative Council head expressed.

Yesterday, the group called for a meeting with the Government to discuss issues cocerning their constitutional rights.

"We are calling for a meeting with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of [National] Security, the prime minister and the minister of culture. For too long I and I Rastafari culture has been suppressed. We have gone to prison, we have gone to jail; we are not criminals for having herbs in our possession," Ras Iyah V stated.

He lamented that for too long Rastafarians have been made fools of by the State and threatened serious repercussion if the discrimination continues.

"We are saying we are tired to be taken as fools because that is how we see it, because our constitutional rights have been continuously violated," Ras Iyah V remarked.

"We are tired of it. We don’t want to be confrontational. But if the time comes that we need to be confrontational, but we will. So we are saying to the Government, don’t make us have to take the streets because if we do, we can easily upset Jamaica’s economy... and that wont be good" he added

When contacted Monday, head of the St James Police Division, Senior Superintendent Marlon Nesbeth, disclosed that a probe had begun in the alleged disappearance of the marijuana.