Rastafarians Lobbying for Piece of the Cannabis Pie

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The Rastafarian community is putting pressure on the government to assure a special provision for them as the government looks to legalize medicinal marijuana.

Head of the Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress (EABIC) Bahamas branch, Priest Rithmond McKinney said for many years, members of his community have faced victimization because of the role marijuana plays in their religion. Because of this, they should benefit economically from the industry.

Why it matters

Earlier in the month, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said his government is completing the legislation to legalize medicinal marijuana for the product to be grown by Bahamians in the country.

What the Rastafarian Community is saying

Priest Rithmond McKinney meets with Attorney General Carl Bethel

“We’ve been victimized, profiled, and incarcerated for years so we feel as though that we should be a part of the economic programme going forward and I think special provisions should be set for us because we’ve been saying for a very long time that this is something that’s good for the human body. So, we’re hoping and demanding our fundamental rights in the (medicinal) cannabis industry and when it comes to our sacramental rights.

“We declared repeatedly that we should be included and so we’re waiting to see and I think our community will have a call on the Prime Minister so we can have some talks and they can tell us where we are in this whole industry going forward,” said McKinney.

He continued: “Concerning the export, we’re looking to that because it sounds very good but who all will be able to participate when it comes to exporting and doing this because you need to be certified and have the proper facilities…so we hope that the majority will be able to benefit for those who get into the business and we hope the small man can benefit.’”

What PM Minnis says

“The government is in the process of now completing legislation to bring to Parliament to legalize medicinal marijuana so that medical marijuana could be grown by Bahamians here, utilized and exported – medicinal marijuana.”

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Carl Bethel, QC, met with spokespersons of the Rastafarian Movement on Friday at the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs to discuss medical and sacramental use, expungement of records, and discrimination against Rastafarians.

Featured Image: Pictured standing from left: Jah-Mikey Bowe, Vice-Chairman of the House of Rastafari; Rithmond McKinney, Royal Ambassador for the Ethiopian Black International Congress and representative of the Crown Council of the Ethiopian Empire; Attorney General Carl Bethel; and Cecilia Strachan, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Attorney General & Ministry of Legal Affairs.   (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

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