Rastafari couple says marijuana laws unfair to their faith

SOUTH BEND — When a judge this week sentenced Jerome Scott for growing dozens of marijuana plants in his South Bend home last year, the 18 months of probation, a relatively light penalty for a felony conviction, didn’t bother him.

Scott, 30, didn’t even contest the fact that he was growing the weed. But he and his girlfriend, 23-year-old Melanie Schmidt, see the state's marijuana laws as unjust and offered an unusual argument as they fought to have his felony reduced to a misdemeanor.

As self-described members of the Rastafari faith, the couple said Scott was doing good for others by cultivating marijuana to ease ailments from chronic back pain to cancer, and they feared a felony on his record could destroy his ability to work as a “caregiver” for the sick as a legal grower in Michigan.

“I believe there should be no law against nature,” Scott told St....

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