ALTHOUGH enshrined in the SA Bill of Rights, freedom of religion continues to apply exclusively to those religions with an orthodox base. The result is that Rastafarians continue to be denied their holy sacrement – dagga also known as marijuana. This is not a rant about the joys of ganga. Rather, it is an attempt to enlighten those who sse prohibition as the only solution. Would Catholics for example, be outraged if the state banned communion, or holy mass as an attempt to “intoxicate”?
Would Jews and Muslims be upset by the outlawing of circumcision as “child mutilation”? There are many laws which apply to civil society that have no place in a religious context. Psychedians, those who advocate the use of “mind-manifesting” drugs — are beginning to move away from the wholesale demand for access (within a grey area mapped out by calls for decriminalisation instead of outright legalisation), towards an entheogenic approach which recognizes social context. The worldwide trend towards a more sober appraisal of the popular use of illicit substances, — the specific mindset and environmental settings needed to create a true religious experience — recognises the need for ekstasis and entheos, i.e. religeous ecstasy and enthusiasm.
Taken within a religious context, marijuana may well be the holy sacrament missing from traditional religion. The same argument has been used to justify the use of peyote by the Native American Church, and other “medicines” deployed by indigenous healers, within the culturally appropriate context of shamanism.
Why then do we still see marches by Rastafarians, demanding rights that Christians take for granted? A recent demonstration in Cape Town was reported by Die Burger.