Discrimination of any sort is disappointing to hear about, and this particular one is no exception.
Around the world, the religious freedoms of Rastafarians are being discriminated against, as illustrated by anti-marijuana laws that exist. This information has been detailed in a recent report by the U.S. Department of State.
John Kerry, the Secretary of State, officially released the report this month. The 2014 Report on International Religious Freedom, as it is titled, points out violations of religious freedoms, which are a human right around the world. In the U.S., the right to religious freedom is protected by the First Amendment.
The report contains 200 country profiles and includes details of the struggles of Rastafarians, who have been criminalized for the use of pot. For many Rastafarians, marijuana is an important part of the religion, used often in their religious rituals.
As per the report, Rastafarians in Barbados expressed concern that the government made marijuana use illegal as it has been part of their religious activities. They reported extra scrutiny from immigration officials and police because of this religious use of pot. Also, they reported that when held by Barbados Correctional Services, the meals also did not meet their religious dietary guidelines.
The discrimination against Rastafarians of anti-marijuana laws also has been reported in Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda. In Panama, the discrimination has been so rampant, with random strip searches from police, that Rastafarian leaders have decided to refrain from smoking pot in public, explains the State Department’s report.
It may not surprise you to note that the report does not mention how the U.S. federal government identifies any religious exceptions to the existing laws on marijuana about it’s use, cultivation and possession, as criminal acts with penalties.