The Italian Almanac


Part of their Religion

Italy's supreme Court of Cassation has ruled that members of the Rastafari faith can possess ''abundant'' quantities of marijuana because smoking it is an integral part of their religion. The ruling was made in response to an appeal by an Italian against his sentence of one year and four months, as well as a 4,000-euro fine, for possession of some 50g of marijuana inflicted by a Perugia court in 2004.

According to the supreme court, the Perugia sentence was only based on the fact that the defendant had more than what is considered the limit considered for personal use and did not take into account his reasons for possessing the drug. The Rastafari faith, the court pointed out, allows its members to smoke even up to 10g of marijuana a day.

Rastas believe that marijuana grew on the tomb of King Salomon and that by smoking it they can drawn strength from his wisdom. They also consider it to be a sacrament which cleanses the mind and body, heals the soul, enhances consciousness and facilitates peacefulness, as well as bringing pleasure. In its ruling, the high court said that marijuana not only has medicinal uses, often given to cancer patients to offset the effects of chemotherapy, but also had a ''meditative'' function and a spiritual use in prayer.