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Rasta pot smokers win legal leeway in Italy

(Reuters) – Rastafarians caught in possession of marijuana in Italy may now have legal recourse, thanks to a high court ruling made public

on Thursday.

Rasta pot smokers win legal leeway

in Italy

Italy’s Court of

Cassation ruled that since the Rastafari religion considers marijuana a sacrament, its members should be given special

consideration when it comes to possession — and how much makes a drug trafficker.

The case before the judges dealt

with a reggae musician who was sentenced to 16 months in prison by a lower court in Perugia after being found in possession

of enough marijuana to roll 70 cigarettes.

The Court of Cassation annulled his sentence, saying the amount appeared

appropriate for personal use considering the heavy amounts that Rastafarians smoke, and ordered an appellate court in

Florence to review the case.

“He was convicted because of the amount … for trafficking, but it was for his own

personal use,” said the defendant’s lawyer, Caterina Calia.

Rastafari, a religion that emerged in Jamaica in the

1930s, considers Ethiopia its spiritual home and that country’s former emperor, Haile Selassie, a divine figure.

Up

to 10 percent of Jamaicans identify themselves as Rastas, but they are virtually unheard of in Roman Catholic

Italy.

(Reporting by Phil

Stewart)

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Rasta pot smokers win legal leeway in Italy