A judge has suggested that Buju Banton or any other Rastafarian serving or that has served time in prison could take court action over not being allowed to use marijuana as part of their religious beliefs and culture.
Judge Charles Gibson said it could result in a declaration that U.S. drug laws and the Religious freedoms protected in the constitution are incompatible.
The issue that would arise, however, is that most Rastas believe that Rasta is a way of life and not a religion. So it could end up being one of those, “you can’t have it both ways” argument. If the movement is not a religion it cannot be protected under the Freedom of Religion clause.
Marijuana use is recognized as part of Rastafarian culture but even in Jamaica, the birthplace of the Rasta movement, smoking of the plant only became decriminalized a few years ago. Prominent Rastas like Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were often arrested, imprisoned and tortured for smoking marijuana.
Although “weed” was not mentioned in the 16 tenets of Rasta, it was considered to be an aid to worship, a medicine and a source of income.
Cannabis was regarded as a “sacred commodity” and “sacrament incense” with authority for its use derived from the Bible.