Antigua and Barbuda: Rastafari granted license to grow cannabis

For decades, members of the Rastafari community have been persecuted and imprisoned for their ritualistic cannabis use. "I (was) born within the Rastafari community. My mother and father are Rastafari," says Ras Kiyode Erasto, a priest with the Ras Freeman Foundation for the Unification of Rastafari.

Erasto suffered bullying and discrimination growing up. At one point, he says, his mother had to cut his dreadlocks so he could be allowed into school. "The children, Rastafari children, we couldn't go to school at one time," he says.

But the tiny islands of Antigua and Barbuda recently became one of the first Caribbean nations to grant Rastafari official sacramental authorization to grow cannabis. "We are freer now," says Ras Tashi, another priest with the Ras Freeman Foundation for the Unification of Rastafari in Antigua.

"We can come and plant any amount of cannabis on this groundation. And no police can come and take up any plant. We fight for that rights, and we get that rights." For Rastafari, the practice and use of cannabis brings them closer to the divine.


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