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North America - Rastafarians

Judge rejects Rastafarian religion plea in marijuana case
(AP, November 15, 2007)

New London, USA - A judge has ruled that while she respects a Norwich man's Rastafarian religion which endorses the use of marijuana, the law is the law and she has sent him to prison for 30 months.

Forty-two-year-old Vernon Smith had pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to sell after police found him with more than 20 pounds of the drug earlier this year.

His lawyer Thursday argued that a Rastafarian believes that selling, trading and possessing marijuana, or "wisdom weed," is "a God-given right." He sought a reduction in the prison time.

Judge Susan B. Handy said she had respect for Smith's religion, but that he could not use it to hide his criminal behavior.