Pubdate: Mon, 4 Oct, 1999
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Copyright: 1999 Associated Newspapers Ltd


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

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