The U.S. State Department has released its annual Report on International Religious Freedom, and it is clear that religious discrimination against marijuana consumers is still a problem in some countries. And like it did in past years, the State Department has refrained from mentioning that due to federal prohibition, such discrimination is present in America as well. The report covers developments that took place in 2019, and it identifies about a dozen countries and territories where cannabis policies either discriminate against marijuana consumers or where they have been reformed to respect religious freedoms.
“I’m here one more time, proudly, to talk about freedom and free societies. And while America is not a perfect nation by any means, we always strive towards that more perfect union, trying to improve. We remain the greatest nation in the history of civilization,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press conference on the report. Here are a few countries and territories where marijuana users are discriminated against:
The Government of the Bahamas continues to discriminate against Rastafarians “because of their dreadlocks and their religious use of marijuana,” they say. The report notes that in December, the Bahamas National Commission made a recommendation to sanction the religious use for Rastafarians but Parliament took no legal action on the recommendation by year’s end. “Rastafarians said police continued to arrest them for possessing small quantities of marijuana used in ceremonial rituals and said prison authorities cut the dreadlocks of Rastafarian prisoners,” the report says.
In Barbados, “Rastafarians expressed objections to the government’s proposed Medicinal Industry Bill, introduced in August, which would legalize marijuana for medical purposes, while remaining silent on whether other personal use, including for religious rituals, would remain prohibited.” The report notes that the attorney general said late last year that a committee “would begin discussions on the use of marijuana for sacramental purposes.”
Rastafarians in the Dominican Republic “continued to press the government for complete legalization of marijuana use, stating they considered decriminalizing to be a commercially focused half measure. Representatives of the Rastafarian community reported that authorities did not enforce the law against using marijuana when they used it in their religious sites,” the report states. Although the prime minister has pushed for decriminalizing cannabis for medical and religious use, legislation to enforce it hasn’t been enacted yet.
Guyana decriminalized low level marijuana possession, but Rastafarians argue that the ban on possessing more than 15 grams “infringed on their religious practices.” The report states that the “Guyana Rastafarian Council continued to petition the government to legalize the use of small amounts of marijuana for religious purposes, but according to the council, authorities again would not consider the proposal, stating that reviewing drug legislation remained a low priority for the government.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if cannabis companies like SinglePoint, Inc. (OTCQB: SING) jokingly quipped that the U.S. federal government should first remove the log of discrimination in its own eye before writing about what is happening in other countries.
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