It’s Ok for Rastafarians to smoke weed to meditate: Italian court

It’s Ok for Rastafarians to smoke weed to meditate: Italian court
Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP
An Italian court acquitted a man found with 58 grams of cannabis in his possession because, as a Rastafarian, he was using the ‘sacred herb’ to meditate.

Explaining the reasons behind the April acquittal, the court in Bari said that “Rastafarians are followers of a religion whose believers use marijuana for meditation”, adding that the drug was just for personal use.

The 30-year-old was arrested in May 2016 after police found eight grams of cannabis in his pocket and a further 50 grams during a search of his home.

The man said that he had set up a meditation room at home, where he listened to Rasta music on a record player while smoking weed.

A prosecutor had called for up to four months in prison but his lawyer, Luca Bruno, argued that marijuana is regarded as a sacred herb within the Rastafari ‘religion’.

Indeed, Rastafarians believe that the marijuana plant has holy powers, and use it during meditation sessions to enhance a sense of unity and spirituality. A short prayer is usually recited before it is smoked.

Although it lacks legal recognition, Rastafari, which originated in Jamaica in the 1930s, is classified as both a new religious movement and a social movement.

Despite cannabis use being illegal in Italy, some three million kilos of the drug are consumed in the country each year.