Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Bald-head Rasta chants fire after cops destroy ganja farm

Published:Friday | February 26, 2021 | 12:17 AMShanna Monteith/Gleaner Writer
Royan Harris, a member of a Rastafarian faith group, surveys a destroyed marijuana field in Dumfries, St Thomas. He alleges that the narcotics police wiped out the crop despite his pleas that the faith group had a sacramental right to cultivate weed.
Royan Harris, a member of a Rastafarian faith group, surveys a destroyed marijuana field in Dumfries, St Thomas. He alleges that the narcotics police wiped out the crop despite his pleas that the faith group had a sacramental right to cultivate weed.

Members of a Rastafarian faith group have lambasted the narcotics police for destroying a half-acre plantation of ganja that was allegedly being used for sacramental purposes. Royan Harris, member of the Ethiopian African Black International...

Members of a Rastafarian faith group have lambasted the narcotics police for destroying a half-acre plantation of ganja that was allegedly being used for sacramental purposes.

Royan Harris, member of the Ethiopian African Black International Congress (EABIC), said that a police team swooped down on the small farm in Dumfries, St Thomas, on February 18 and wiped out the entire crop.

Harris, who does not wear the traditional dreadlocks of Rastafarians, defended the group’s right to cultivate marijuana and suggested that the actions of the police bordered on malice. He said that no arrests were made and claimed that the police dismantled surveillance cameras at the property.

The Rastafarian said that he was taken aback when the narcotics team approached him two Thursdays ago and said that they were going to destroy the marijuana field.

Harris said that he showed them a sign indicating that it was owned and operated by the faith group.

“I asked them to hold on for a minute so I can show them the sign that states it’s a church property and that I can go get them the priest who is in charge,” Harris told The Gleaner.

“I left to get him and they said they will not wait and proceeded to cut off the gate to the premises, entered, and destroyed the plants, and left.”

Harris has questioned the legitimacy of the raid.

The Dangerous Drugs Act was amended in 2015 to allow for members of the Rastafarian faith 18 years and older to cultivate marijuana on designated lands.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey confirmed that the operation took place but rejected Harris’ version of events.

Bailey said that while an investigation was under way, there was no evidence that the cultivators had any legal authority to grow more than the five ganja plants stipulated in the amended Dangerous Drugs Act.

“I’m also aware that when the police went and requested the licence for the authority, the gentleman said he was going for the documents and disappeared,” Bailey quipped.

The deputy commissioner said that advice was being sought from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and that the ultimate decision would be communicated in due time.

The Dumfries farm, according to Harris, is utilised by priests and other members of the EABIC, a religious group based in Bobo Hill, Bull Bay.

Delroy Williams, the priest responsible for the field, expressed disappointment in the lawmen’s action.

“We are a congress, a body, a people … and we got the freedom as Rastas to use ganja for our sacramental fullness in our church. We have our right,” he said.]