Pubdate: Mon, 04 Oct 1999
Date: 10/04/1999
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Author: Alun Buffrey

The advice and information given to judges in the Bench Book is a
welcome but partial recognition of the Human Rights of Rastafarians to
practice their religious rites through the smoking of cannabis, also
called ganja.

However, we have to agree, in this instance, with Conservative MP
Julian Brazier - "The law must be the law for everybody."

To ban the smoking of cannabis is contrary to the basic human right to
choose and the practice one's religion or belief, and the law can only
interfere if there is a threat to the health, morale, well-being or
security of society or the rights of others. There is no reason to
stop Rastafarians consuming cannabis.

On the other hand, to prosecute cannabis users because they are not
Rastafarians would also contradict the Human Rights of equality.  We
cannot have one law for one religion and another law for others.

Presently, there is an application before the European Court of Human
Rights in Strasbourg on precisely this issue, spearheaded by myself on
behalf of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance and the Campaign to Legalise
Cannabis International Association (CLCIA) and many others.

The issue is quite clear cut, although it has been ignored by the UK
Government and the UK Courts to date.

What Right does the law have to interfere in the practice of a belief,
in this case that the consumption of cannabis is beneficial in one or
more ways, when the actions involved hurt neither society nor the
individual. The answer is none.

Alun Buffrey
Legalise Cannabis Alliance