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Defence lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste. (iWN file photo)
Defence lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste. (iWN file photo)

A human rights lawyer and lawmaker says the Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purposes Act currently before Parliament could face a constitutional challenge if passed into law.

The bill is one of three that will be debated in Parliament on Nov. 20 and is likely to be passed into law that day.

A bi-partisan select committee of the House of Assembly and members of civil society are reviewing the draft laws.

If passed into law, the bill will provide, under certain guidelines, for the use of cannabis in religious worship.

Speaking on her New Democratic Party’s “New Times” programme on NICE Radio on Friday, Sen. Kay Bacchus-Baptiste said this is a “worthy” piece of legislation.

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“However, this act may not have gone far enough. It is somewhat limiting in that the authority will define what is a religious denomination, which religious denominations, how you can plant, where you can plant, where you can use it.

“Yes, this is necessary but, at the same time, … do you go to the Roman Catholic Church when they use their incense and their different sacraments that they use and try to limit how they use it? But you are going to tell the Rastaman how to use their sacrament. So constitutional issues, serious constitutional issues, may be raised,” said Bacchus-Baptiste, who is a lawyer and human rights activist.

“Having decided that they now have the right to use it, are you going to tell them where they must use it? That doesn’t happen with the other churches so it could raise constitutional issues in relation to the use of a sacrament which is now accepted that this is how the Rastafarian religion use the herb,” she said.

4 replies on “Religious weed law rife for constitutional challenges — senator”

  1. Will other individuals with the propensity and liking for Cocaine, Heroin or Opium be encouraged to establish a new religion with either of these prohibited merchandises as their sacrament? After all there would now likely to be a Legal Precedent with Cannabis!

    Indeed the Roman Catholics Church, when they use their incense and their different sacraments, they do not ingest them, and nor were there any and nor or is there any prohibition as to the age of those who may participate with the incense use.

    Are we now likely to be looking down the road at “the Law of unintended consequences” with this Cannabis sacrament?

    For sure, it would be most prudent to restrict all young people from the sacraments in Cannabis use as these are those whose brain are yet still in the development stage, and what of those individuals whose DNA would cause them to go psychotic with the cannabis as their sacramental use! ( )

    See Cannabis and mental health (British NHS)
    “Regular cannabis use increases your risk of developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia. A psychotic illness is one where you have hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t really there) and delusions (believing things that aren’t really true)”.

    Oh the moral Maze when gamekeepers becomes poachers!

  2. Rawlston Pompey says:


    Even for intellectuals as it for people with inferior intellect, It has often been difficult when people could not make a distinction between a ‘…Right and a Privilege.’

    The fact that a matter which was strictly prohibited by law, amendment was made to ‘…decriminalize the possession and use of a certain portion for a specific purpose,’ could never be said is a ‘…Right.’

    This is simply a ‘..Privilege.’ There is nothing wrong with ‘…attaching conditionalities’ primarily for control.

    It is no different to ‘…driving a motor vehicle.’ For instance, one must pass a ‘…theoretical and a competency test.’

    Then one is accorded a privilege to drive lawfully by the issuance of a ‘…Driver’s Licence.’ But there is a law that prohibits certain manner of driving.

    As in other jurisdictions, here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the manner is (i) …Reckless; …Dangerous; and Careless Driving or Driving without Due Care and Attention.’.
    Then there is Speeding over the legally prescribed limit.

    These are really for road safety and traffic control. If a driver is prosecuted his licence may be suspended. If convicted, he faces (a) …a fine; or (b) …he is disqualified from driving, either for a limited period or permanently.

    He could ‘…appeal the conviction or severity of sentence.’ He could never claimed infringement of a right. C, Ben David,’ might now be given good reasons to say that this attorney is ‘…trying to score something.’

    It is obvious that the attorney might be playing on the ‘…gullibility of the Rastafarian community.’ In other jurisdiction, this would most certainly be looked at as ‘…an indirect and improper solicitation of clients.’


  3. Vincy in New York says:

    The government shows a grave disrespect to Rastafarians.

    What is wrong with legislating for a maximum of 2s? Maximum of 2 ounces of weed on a person and 2 trees on private property or land space without a license.

    What is wrong with making all smoking illegal in public spaces?

    What is wrong with setting the limit on the age for smoking? Say 18 or 21?

    What is wrong with a public apology to the Rastafarians?

    We are lagging behind on this issue, and the rest of the Caribbean, even the world, is laughing at us. We are continuing to criminalize our youths over weed whilst the rest of the world is moving on from these arcane laws.

    As I mention in previous posts, I do not care for either of the two major political parties in SVG. However, the ULP government drops the ball on this one. I have the utmost respect for the intellectual capabilities and oratory skills of our PM, but he came up way short in many ways on this one. Basically, I expected better and the government did not even provide anything good.

    1. Most so-called Rastafarians are what are called “stylistic Rastafarians” who haven’t a clue or concern about traditional Rasta beliefs and practices, which, as numerous studies in Jamaica have shown are all over the place even among belivers.

      There is no centralized, organized, and unified “Church of Rastafarism” in the same way there is an Anglican, Methodist, or Spiritual Baptist church or congregation.

      But all this talk about marijuna is just smoke and mirrors by a government grasping at any political straw it can get its hands on in the twilight of its grip on power.

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