THE lawsuit filed by members of the Rastafarian community over Indian Hemp is a bold move – and one that comes at a delicate time in the debate over the legalisation of marijuana.
We must say the basis of the lawsuit is rather clever – claiming that laws preventing the use, possession and supply of the drug is a restraint on their religious freedom. The comparison with churches giving communion wine to underage members of the congregation is particularly sharp, drawing a comparison that if it was a bar serving alcohol to a minor, the police would act.
That said, we don’t hold high expectations of its success. After all, what’s to stop any group claiming that any activity deemed unlawful is a religious belief?
How does one legislate at all if different groups can simply opt out? The Rastafarian community has a significant concern over Indian Hemp, but other groups have other issues. Some religions favour polygamy, for example. And even slavery has been justified in the past on religious grounds by some.
Parts of the lawsuit we would heartily applaud, however – such as the cutting of Rastas’ locks in prison, for which there surely must be room for sensitivity by the authorities. It might also prove useful in testing the principles of when searches are allowed by officers.
However, the law must be the law. It must be open to change through the proper channels, open for groups to campaign for amendments – but it is there to be followed. If the drug is illegal – as it is now – then that law must be followed.
If the law is indeed an infringement on religious rights, then by all means campaign for a change, seek to have it overturned, but until it is, it can be no surprise if one is penalised for breaking it.
Ultimately, the biggest effect of the lawsuit might be on the ongoing considerations over what to do about the legalisation or decriminalisation of marijuana.
Those discussions have already gone on far too long – and this lawsuit might be of as much use in swaying a debate that seems to have stalled.
It is true that too many young people in particular find themselves running foul of the law over the possession of a small amount of the drug. Criminal sentences and blotted records can irreparably damage their futures before they have even started – and we would hope that in the event of a change in the legal status of the drug, we might see prisoners released and some hope of a future restored.
One thing is for certain – this lawsuit is a sign of a part of our community that has lost patience with all the delays in addressing the legality or otherwise of marijuana. Let’s stop kicking that particular can down the road and make a decision.
Web shops should treat staff fairly
“That does hurt my heart.”
Five words from Labour Director John Pinder that cut to the centre of concerns about employees being treated properly.
He was referring to workers at web shops – who get to see their employers making a big show of being generous and helping the community only to end up going home with small pay packets and unfair treatment.
Too many of these disputes seem to leave the worker waiting forever for a resolution too – Mr Pinder notes that the lack of a penalty on employers for not showing up to tribunals means they don’t respond to a summons. So on top of the initial unfair treatment, a worker is left wondering when it will all get resolved.
“I’m often baffled at the fact that these web shop owners are throwing millions of dollars on a party through the Christmas and hate to pay their staff a decent salary and treat them fairly,” he said.
It’s an indictment indeed – and the fact Mr Pinder can point so squarely at the web shops speaks ill of the industry at large.
So here’s a challenge to the industry – and especially for those with the showiest Christmas parties and community giveaways. Stand up for your staff. In the end, they are your biggest asset – if you treat them right.