Reggae Sumfest 2018

Antigua PM says sorry to Rastas for ganja 'demonisation'

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antiguan-pm-and-wife.jpgAntigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the prohibition of cannabis less than 100 years ago was not prompted by altruistic motives or concern for the health or well-being of users, but to serve 'the racist, political and economic interests' of the then global powers.

In a message marking International Day of Cannabis, commonly referred to as "420', Browne, whose government recently announced plans to allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, said in the Caribbean, the Rastafari Community has championed the many uses of cannabis and have asserted that the herb is utilised as a sacrament in their rituals, celebrations, and worship.

Below is PM Browne's 420 message:

"Hi, this is Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda.

The prohibition of Cannabis less than 100 years ago, was prompted not by altruistic motives or concern for the health or well being of users, but to serve the racist, political and economic interests of the global powers at that time.

In the Caribbean, the Rastafari Community has championed the many uses of Cannabis, and have asserted that the herb is utilized as a sacrament in their rituals, in their celebrations and worship. The prohibition and demonization have led to Rastafari being brutalized and castigated by Police and other Government authorities, because of the utilization of the plant Cannabis Sativa.

It is in this context, and now that my Government has liberalized the Legislation regarding Cannabis, and is moving towards the medicinal & other uses of this natural substance, that I have issued a 'genuine' apology to the Rastafarian Community, and have asserted that Rastafari sacramental or spiritual use be acknowledged, and that Rastafari be given a stake in production and benefits to be derived from the medicinal and other uses going forward.

Let us regard this as reparations for Rastafari, for the wrongs inflicted on this significant minority group in our Countries, through the so called 'war on drugs' which evidently was prompted by pernicious prohibition.

Bless up!"

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