Meet the Peruvian Rasta behind a landmark case for the right to grow weed

LIMA, Peru — “I live in a pacific way. I don’t harm anyone and they have tried to make me a criminal,” says Ernesto Paz as he exhales a thick cloud of smoke.

“They even cut off my dreadlocks by force in jail. When I asked them why, they told me, ‘Your human rights stay outside.’”

Paz, 29, is one of around 100 practicing Rastafarians in Peru. Smoking marijuana is a sacred ritual for him, his way of communing with Jah, as the religion of black liberation founded in Jamaica calls God.

He is taking a landmark case to Peru’s Supreme Court, one that could establish the right of Rastas and other cannabis users here to grow their own pot.

That would be a significant step for Peru, an avid fighter in the United States-backed global drug war. It would follow this month's stunning pot news in Mexico, whose Supreme Court ruled one...

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