Samuel Koroma reports
One of such group is the Rastafarian Movement in Sierra Leone, whose position paper focuses on the decriminalisation of marijuana its judicious use and the recognition of Rastafarian and their religious rights.
Although it is amongst products tagged economically viable in some parts of the world, cannabis sativa is being considered as a dangerous drug in Sierra Leone. The intake of even a ‘jot’ could land it smokers in jail.
It is against this backdrop that the Twelve Tribes of Israel, a Rastafarian group based in Sierra Leone, resolved to present their position paper to the Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee for it to be considered during the review of the 1991 Peter Tucker Constitution.
During the presentation ceremony, human rights journalist and principal advocate, Theophilus Sahr Gbenda said the relevance of cannabis sativa is unthinkable, as they as Rastafarians they have personal relationship with it, others use it for medicinal purpose, some people smoke it and other countries use it for income generation purposes.
He said that the negative effect alcohol and cigarette has on its intoxicators could never be compared to the marijuana. He cited Mexico, Paraguay, and Jamaica; where marijuana serves as a key economic axis for the governments. He therefore recommended control strategies.
Several other speakers made key contributions on the need for the legalisation of marijuana. The Elderly Priest Tamba Senesie, noted that the topic in question is scriptural. He compared the scientific name of rice Oryza Sativa to that of the weed’s cannabis sativa; which he said denotes edibility. He opined that should the Government of Sierra Leone heeded to their calls, they are convinced that the marijuana’s productivity and economic prowess could dwarf even that of cocoa and coffee.
In his response to the Rastafarian Movement, Justice Edmond Cowan said they are always pleased to see Sierra Leoneans coming up with positions papers.
He cautioned that not all that has been presented to the CRC would be included in the new constitution though. He noted Constitution of Sierra Leone has good laws in it, but that the only thing is lack of implementation.