An Italian court has acquitted a 30-year-old man of cannabis possession, determining that the defendant used cannabis to practice his Rastafarian religion, according to a report by the Independent. The individual had been arrested after police found 8 grams on his person and another 50 grams at his home. He faced up to four months in prison.
The Bari judge ruled that the cannabis was for personal use and that “Rastafarians are followers of a religion whose believers use marijuana for meditation.”
The defendant argued that he listened to Rasta records while meditating and smoking cannabis, the Local reports.
Rastafari is a religion developed in the 1930s and Rastafarians believe former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is the reincarnation of God, or an emissary, who will return members of the black community to Africa that were displaced during colonization or slavery. Cannabis has been used by practitioners since its inception and is consumed during religious discussions called “reasonings.”
In many regions, the religion lacks legal recognition. Last month, a Rastafarian church leader was among 18 arrested during raids in Yuba County, California.