Guidelines On Herb Haile Controversial
Judge ye not the rasta and the herb
Squall Download 1, Oct/Nov 1999, pg. 9.
Cannabis took a step further towards legal recognition as a sacred herb when an advice book for judges was published by the Lord Chancellor’s department at the end of September.
The Equal Treatment Bench Book was distributed to the British judiciary in an attempt to keep them up to date with ethnic and religious minorities and so prevent embarrassing racist statements slipping out the mouths of the less with-it judges.
Amongst a list of ‘get with-it’ advice, the new guide book acknowledges the legitimacy of Rastafarianism and further informs judges that a Rasta's use of Cannabis is sacramental. The lord chancellor, Lord Irvin, has ‘disciplined’ five judges for offensive racial comments since taking office in May 1997.
The guide book also details research carried out in 1992 revealing that black defendants had a higher chance of receiving an immediate custodial sentence than a white person especially in cases where judges had more discretion.