Jamaican Marijuana Reform, Rastas and Rights

In 1997, Dr. Dennis Forsythe, described in Forsythe v Director of Public Prosecutions and Attorney General (1997 34 J.L.R. 512) as a sociologist, holist, author, Rastafarian and attorney-at-law, petitioned the Supreme (High) Court for a declaration that his constitutional rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion had been infringed by the Dangerous Drugs Act 1924. Forsythe had been arrested for illegal possession of marijuana (called ganja in Jamaica) and a chillum pipe (used to smoke marijuana) at his house. Rastafarians are adherents of a religious movement originating from Jamaica that smoke marijuana as a religious sacrament.

Forsythe stated in his affidavit that:

“Ganja is integral to my religion as a Rastafarian and I should not be made a ‘criminal’ because of my Religion’s definition of Ganja not as “drug’ but as a “Plant” and be declared a “dangerous person” explicitly or impliedly only because of my adoration and...

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