“Why don’t you give Rastas a break?”
This was the question wire bending specialist Claude “Swami” Jeffers posed to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi during the first national consultation on the decriminalisation of marijuana.
Jeffers said for years Rastafarians have been tormented for using the “holy herb”.
“We say our prayers with it, we meditate with it, we search for wisdom knowledge and understanding with it, we use the marijuana differently from how the infidels use it, and there are no such things as recreational marijuana when a Rastaman is concerned,” Jeffers said.
Jeffers said Rastas use marijuana during their prayers and not with alcohol or tobacco.
“It was not meant for everybody, as a matter of fact, it should only be for Rastas to smoke,” Jeffers said.
Jeffers was among the hundreds who were at the Lord Kitchener Auditorium at NAPA yesterday to have their voices heard on the issue of the changing of marijuana laws in T&T.
As attendees entered NAPA yesterday they were greeted by several booths giving away products from companies such as Blue Waters, Yoplait, and Colcafe.
None were infused with cannabis.
The consultation started at 1.33 pm and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi gave a presentation that lasted just over an hour.
Then the floor was opened to questions and comments from the audience.
Former attorney general Garvin Nicholas said the war against drugs was a waste of time and applauded the Government for beginning discussion on the issue of decriminalisation.
Former Supermarket Association head, Balliram Maharaj who came to the consultation in a wheelchair because of a fractured foot, said he fully supported marijuana decriminalisation.
However, not all in attendance were convinced that decriminalisation is the way for T&T to go.
Pastor Leslie Moses, president of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) churches said the organisation was saying no to the decriminalisation of marijuana and called for the Government to think again on the issue.
“We are very concerned about the impact the legalisation or the decriminalisation of marijuana will have on the public health costs that are associated with dealing with this situation. It is essential to bear in mind that the use of marijuana in adults and children have lead to long-term psychological effects that are not positive and that can create issues that we will have to deal with later,” Moses said.
“We advise out good Government to think again about the decriminalisation of marijuana,” Moses said.
Moses said the SDA does not have a position on medical marijuana as yet. He said as research on the matter proceeds the SDA will say whether or not they agree on that issue.
Akilah Holder, of the Trinidad and Tobago Council for Evangelical Churches, said a reform of the justice system is necessary but that the decriminalisation of marijuana was not necessarily the best way to go about with it.
“We would like the Government to be careful not to turn this into one of marijuana but about reforming the justice system,” she said.
- by Joel Julien. Photo by Anisto Alves.