THE All Mansions Of Rastafari will take their mission to have cannabis legalised to Woodford Square, Port of Spain, on Sunday. The group will hold a rally to mobilise support to have the laws changed to decriminalise use of cannabis, which it says has “spiritual” significance to Rastafarians. It also is aiming to broaden the discussion to focus on the medicinal, agricultural and economic benefits than can be accrued from wider production.
Bongo Grease (Glenroy Halls), secretary All Mansions Of Rastafari, said the rally is in keeping with their documented vision, mission and objectives, which includes lobbying for and on behalf of the fundamental rights and freedoms of its adherents. The rally begins at 10 am.
The rally also comes in the wake of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s recent declaration that the government will be examining existing legislation in 2019 with a view to possibly decriminalising marijuana on the local front.
Bongo Grease said the rally will be a highly-educational event since it will be addressed by a number of distinguished guest speakers, among them, Dr Anthony Pottinger; UWI Law Dean Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, sociologist Dr Tyehimba Salandy, criminologist Dr Daurius Figueira, Jamaican cannabis pioneer Ras Iyah V, Annette Henry and Canadian cannabis consultant Olivia Brown.
Bongo Grease added that with the regional and international cannabis decriminalisation and industrialisation momentum, the rally will be part of their ongoing marijuana sensitisation, advocacy and legislative reform campaign.
“We are now getting the results of scientific studies, and the benefits of cannabis has outweighed any risks. To this end, we are hereby sounding a clarion call and battle cry to not only the troops of the Rastafarian community, but more inclusively the entire army of the cannabis community and its allies including users, agriculturalists, activists, jurists, advocates, researchers, entrepreneurs, medical experts, dependents and all sympathisers within government, the business sector and civil society in general to come out in your great and overwhelming numbers to send a clear and resolute message to all stakeholders concerning the positive undeniable and wide-reaching environmental, judicial, religious, medical and socio-economic benefits of cannabis to the future of TT.”
Given the spiritual significance of cannabis to Rastafarians, producers of the event say they have long-awaited a signal of intent from government to lift the harmful prohibition. And now they say that there is genuine hope.
“We are rallying people of every creed and race in order to push this change through in a manner which fully explores and exploits all aspects of the beneficial plant and is conducive to all parties.”
Members of the NGO said that for too long the plant has been demonised, resulting in the unjust persecution of users, particularly Rastafarians and those from the lower socio-economic classes.
Furthermore, they stated that the prohibition has also denied citizens legal access to a legitimate form of medicine that can help treat a number of conditions, among a plethora of other benefits.
“The time has come to right these wrongs. It is time to legalise it,” said All Mansions Of Rastafari.
Bongo Grease said: “For years we have suffered a lot of crucial injustices. A man died after losing his locks in prison. As soon as he came out he died.”
Bongo Grease advised the Minister of Health Dr Terrence Deyalsingh that legislation should be taken from a health policy perspective and not a criminal one.
He added that from an agricultural point of view, the decriminalising of cannabis will encourage young farmers to grow mixed crops, explaining that mixed with cannabis, vegetables are much healthier.
A star-studded line up of artistes will also perform at the historic rally, including Marlon Asher, Queen Omega, Prophet Benjamin, Isasha, King David and Malaykee LH. Official campaign T-shirts and paraphernalia and vendor tents are available by contacting All Mansions Of Rastafari (306-0134, 372-9074), while donations to the environmental and humanitarian cause can be done via: Royal Bank of Canada – bank account#: 100 000 023 911 77.