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Feds Call Out Religious Discrimination Against Marijuana Consumers

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The U.S. government is again highlighting religious discrimination against people who consume marijuana, but is only shining a spotlight on such anti-cannabis bias that occurs in other countries.

In Guyana, for example, “representatives of the Rastafarian community said that a law criminalizing the possession of 15 grams or more of marijuana infringed on their religious practices,” a new U.S. State Department report says. “A representative of the Rastafari Council said some members of his community faced extra scrutiny from law enforcement officials who believed Rastafaris carried marijuana on their person.”

“The council petitioned the government to legalize the use of small amounts of marijuana for religious purposes, but authorities reportedly did not consider the proposal, saying that reviewing drug legislation was not a state priority at that time.”

In Sierra Leone, “Rastafarians reported this [cannabis] prohibition restricted their ability to use cannabis as a core component of their religious practices.” A community elder told the State Department that “there were 15 incidents of police harassment during the year, often tied to…use of cannabis.”

“The alleged harassment included beatings and confiscation of property found on their persons.”

Also in Sierra Leone, government officials still have not held nine police officers accountable for a 2016 incident in which they damaged a temple as part of a marijuana enforcement operation.

The findings are among several included State Department’s 2017 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, released on Tuesday.

In Barbados, “Rastafarians continued to state their objection to the government’s enforcement of the prohibition on marijuana for any use, which they said made it impossible to fully perform their religious rituals,” the U.S. report says. “Rastafarian activists continued to say that police and immigration officials required Rastafarians to remove head coverings and gave extra scrutiny to Rastafarian women at checkpoints, which they said was a pretext for searching for marijuana.”

In Saint Kitts and Nevis, “Rastafarians continued to face police harassment, particularly for the use of marijuana for religious purposes. Rastafarian representatives continued to state that marijuana, banned by law, was integral to their religious rituals.”

In the Czech Republic, the government suspended a registration application for the Cannabis Church.

“Members of the Rastafarian community said police and immigration officials continued to subject them to scrutiny because of the use of marijuana in the Rastafarian community,” in Dominica. “According to reports by both the police and members of the Rastafarian community, persons of other religious groups were not subject to such scrutiny.”

Anti-cannabis religious discrimination was also reported in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados and Saint Lucia.

Despite the ongoing hardships across the world for people who use marijuana for spiritual reasons, Rastafarians in several countries noted that discrimination seems to be ebbing, at least somewhat.

In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, for example, despite continued “societal discrimination” against cannabis consumption, some Rastafarians said they “were increasingly accepted in society, and society was becoming more tolerant of their way of life,” citing a “perceived reduction in police harassment as proof of increased societal acceptance.”

In Jamaica, advocates said a 2015 law legalizing spiritual cannabis use “allowed them to practice their religion according to their beliefs.”

“Rastafarians said law enforcement officials on rare occasions still profiled, stopped, and searched Rastafarians for possession of marijuana over the decriminalized limit, but they were no longer concerned about being detained for carrying marijuana to religious ceremonies for use as a sacrament,” the report says.

Another hopeful sign came from South Africa, where Rastafarians cheered a High Court ruling that declared a ban on marijuana use by adults in private homes to be unconstitutional.

Although U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the new report “is a testament to the United States’s historic role in preserving and advocating for religious freedom around the world,” legal arguments for the use of marijuana in accordance with various religions have repeatedly been rejected by U.S. courts.

The 2016 and 2015 and 2014 versions of the State Department’s religious freedom report also spotlighted anti-marijuana bias in other nations, but not at home.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

Culture

Willie Nelson Wants To Smoke Marijuana With Trump And Putin

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Everyone’s favorite country singer and legendary stoner Willie Nelson says he’d be glad to smoke weed with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama.

The Red Headed Stranger made the revelations in an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert this week. The host showed Nelson celebrity photos in a rapid-fire fashion and the singer had to say if he’d toke up with them or not.

Nelson doesn’t say no to consuming cannabis with a single person, including the former and current presidents. When shown a picture of Putin, Colbert asks if it would help international relations if Nelson shared a joint with him, to which he replies, “There’s several people I’d like to see take a hit, so to speak.”

When a picture of Donald Trump immediately follows, Nelson says, “Oh yeah. He needs one bad. That could be good for him.”

And capping off the round is a photo of former president Barack Obama. Nelson laughs and says, “Yeah, I think he may have already been there a time or two.” Now that he’s out of office, wouldn’t we all love to see the former Choom Gang leader go for a session in Willie’s bus?

Absent from the lineup of celebrities was Colbert himself. Is the beard the real clue we need to know The Late Show host is jumping on the pot bandwagon?

Colbert left his desk and studio audience to speak to the singer from the inside of Nelson’s famous bus, which wasn’t (at the time) full of marijuana smoke. After asking about the bus’s name and joking about other people with named vehicles, like Batman or The Pope, Colbert complimented the smell of the “air freshener” inside the bus, saying it was “relaxing.”

“Is that lavender? Is that one of the flavors?” he joked, to which Nelson laughed and replied, “If it’s not, it will be. The Colbert Lavender. We’ll have it,” most likely referring to his marijuana company Willie’s Reserve.

Colbert asks about the history of Nelson’s iconic braids, and then the conversation moves to his support for Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Texas. O’Rourke, as Marijuana Moment has previously reported, wants to end the federal prohibition of marijuana and create a legal, regulated system. Colbert brings up the recently viral photo of Nelson wearing a “Beto For Texas” shirt while giving the camera his upright middle finger, a la Johnny Cash.

The pair go on to cover Nelson’s latest album, My Way, which is all Frank Sinatra covers. Colbert plays an old ad for the Space Foundation featuring Ol’ Blue Eyes himself and Nelson joking around.

Nelson relays a story about an astronaut recently visiting the bus and telling the country legend, “You’re the only I know that’s been higher than me.” Maybe Nelson is working his way to a smoke session with Elon Musk.

It’s not Colbert’s funniest segment, but not without some laughs—and certainly respecting, and playing to, Nelson’s famous relationship with the plant.

Watch the full interview below:

Photo courtesy of CBS.

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Culture

Marijuana Looks Like An Alien World Under An Electron Microscope

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Have you ever seen marijuana?

No, have you ever seen it up close? Like, really up close?

Ted Kinsman has, and you won’t believe his photos.

When viewed under an electron microscope, cannabis looks like an alien world.

“I like to think it’s what a person would see if they were just a few microns tall, walking through these forests,” Kinsman told Tech Insider in an interview published on Friday.

He included many of his pictures, which are artificially colorized, in his book, “Cannabis: Marijuana Under The Microscope,” which was published in May.

Kinsman, who is a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, has also photographed psilocybin mushroom spores, bedbugs, spiders and even human brain cells.

Take a look at more photos and learn about Kinsman’s techniques in the Tech Insider video below:

Photo courtesy of Ted Kinsman // Tech Insider.

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Amsterdam’s Marijuana Strategy Means Cops Don’t Have Much To Do, Comedy Central Finds

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There aren’t very many cities in the world where the police will politely wait for you to smoke a joint and then rejoin them while walking the streets, but Amsterdam isn’t like many other cities.

Comedy Central’s Jim Jeffries took his show to the Netherlands this week for an installment of “Jim’s A Cop.” In the hilarious segment, he rides and walks with two members of the city’s police force while cracking jokes and poorly singing the COPS theme song for hours—all while getting exactly zero calls about active crimes.

Jeffries and the cops discuss the absurdly low crime rate in the city as well as one officer’s love for the TV show Dexter. They pass through the famous Red Light District where Jeffries asks, “Why is everyone waving at us?” The cop replies, “They like us.”

Jeffries asks if marijuana is legal to which both officers reply, “No.” They go on to explain that the coffeeshops operate under what the Dutch call gedoogbeleid, which translates to a “policy of tolerance.” It’s this tolerance of drug use that contributes to Amsterdam’s low crime rate—as well as Holland’s moves to close prisons “because the country is so safe,” Jeffries says.

The Comedy Central host mentions that, in contrast, the War on Drugs here in the U.S. has contributed to violence and a mass incarceration rate that’s the highest in the world.

As Marijuana Moment previously reported, studies have shown legalizing marijuana can free up police time to solve other crimes. It’s becoming more obvious that acceptance and legalization of cannabis use makes cities safer.

Watch the clip below:

Legalizing Marijuana Helps Police Solve Other Crimes, New Study Shows

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