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Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne

Antigua ends ganja prohibition, local advocacy groups celebrate

[Press Release] In acknowledgment of the celebration of the international day of cannabis, commonly referred to as 420, the Honourable Gaston Browne has issued a recorded statement recognising the wrongs committed against Rastafari and the end of the prohibition of cannabis.

The Honourable Gaston Browne is the first sitting Caribbean Head of Government who has acknowledged the wrongs against Rastafari in the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda and has issued an official apology to the Rastafarian community. His government took the courageous step of liberalising the cannabis laws with the commitment of passing a comprehensive Cannabis Act that will regulate the use of cannabis in Antigua and Barbuda by the close of 2018.

Drawing on the network of cannabis activists, the Cannabis Movement of Saint Lucia requested Antiguan activist Frank I to enquire of the Hon Prime Minister if he would be so kind as to issue a statement for the Saint Lucia 420 celebration in Soufriere this Friday 20th April 2018. 

“Hi, this is Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda.

The prohibition of Cannabis less than 100 years ago, was prompted not by altruistic motives or concern for the health or well being of users, but to serve the racist, political and economic interests of the global powers at that time.

In the Caribbean, the Rastafari Community has championed the many uses of Cannabis, and have asserted that the herb is utilized as a sacrament in their rituals, in their celebrations and worship. The prohibition and demonization have led to Rastafari being brutalized and castigated by Police and other Government authorities, because of the utilization of the plant Cannabis Sativa.

It is in this context, and now that my Government has liberalized the Legislation regarding Cannabis, and is moving towards the medicinal & other uses of this natural substance, that I have issued a ‘genuine’ apology to the Rastafarian Community, and have asserted that Rastafari sacramental or spiritual use be acknowledged, and that Rastafari be given a stake in production and benefits to be derived from the medicinal and other uses going forward.

Let us regard this as reparations for Rastafari, for the wrongs inflicted on this significant minority group in our Countries, through the so called ‘war on drugs’ which evidently was prompted by pernicious prohibition.

Bless up!”

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