The Native American Church was introduced to North American tribes in the 1880’s and then to Oklahoma by 1918 by Quanah Parker. Parker starting using the peyote religion after being attacked by a bull and surviving with the use of peyote. Parker taught that the sacred peyote medicine was given to all people by the creator and was to be used with water and communion ceremonies.
The first recorded case of prosecution of peyote use was in 1907 when three Kickapoo Indians were arrested for use of the peyote. Laws banning Peyote were enacted in 11 southwestern states. In 1960, Arizona Judge Yale McFate, ruled that Native Americans were allowed to use peyote under the first and fourteenth amendments.
Section 1307.31 of the federal code states that The Native American Church members are exempt from criminal penalties for religious use of peyote. Members who manufacture or distribute peyote are required to obtain registration annually.
Marcus Garvey started the Rastafari Movement which began in the 1920’s. Garvey believed that blacks should move back to Africa, their home. In 1930 Garvey said that someone would be crowned King in Africa and Emperor Haile Selassie I was crowned King in Ethiopia. This marked the beginning for the Rastafari belief.
The use of ganja (marijuana) among the Rastafarians is a religious ritual. Ganja is used for psycho-spiritual effects and socio-religious functions for people under stress. The Rastafarians believe that God who created all things from the herb for human use. Rastafarians see ganja as mediatory influence and to bring peace to man. The Rastafarians do not believe in excessive use of ganja because if it was used to excess it would be harmful to man. Rastafarians believe that marijuana is the tree of life which is mentioned in the bible. They believe that it keeps you balanced. At the Rastafarian rituals a prayer is said by all then a pipe or cigarette with ganja in it is passed around. Ganja is required at all meetings.
The Rastafarians are mostly vegetarians or vegans. They follow a dietary law which is called Ital. Ital foods are all natural, not canned and do not contain chemicals and eaten as raw as possible. They also believe that milk is unnatural. Rastafarians do not use alcohol because it is a chemical and makes a person dumb.
The Attorney General of the U.S. Janet Reno ruled that Rastafarians do not have the right to smoke marijuana since it is in violation of drug laws in the United States.
The Church of Cognizance (COC) was founded in 1991 by Daniel and Mary Quaintance in Arizona. The COC members are encouraged to research all religions but the Zoroastrian Avesta is their practice. The COC believes that marijuana aids the mind, body and soul. Marijuana is the ancient teacher of wisdom, compassion and the way to heaven on earth. The COC believes that marijuana is the teacher, protector and provider. They also believe that they acquire proper beliefs, none of which are harmful to health, safety, welfare, or morals of society in general.
In 1996, the founders of the COC were arrested with possession of 172 pounds of marijuana. They said the marijuana was for religious purposes and US District Judge Judith Herrera believed that they were using the religion as an excuse to justify their life styles. Dan was sentenced to 5 years in prison and Mary got 2 to 3 years in prison. The biggest issue in this case was the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which says the government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion," only if there's a compelling government interest, and if the government uses "the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest."
I believe that the use of hallucinogenic substances should be allowed for religious use because it has been a part of religions for centuries. I believe that we all have our own religious beliefs and we celebrate them how our ancestors did. Religious rituals are passed from generation to generation. I believe that the person should have a choice as to use or not use hallucinogenic substances at their religious ceremonies; they should not be forced if they do not want to use the drug. I also believe that hallucinogens have an effect on a person’s mind and they should not be able to do certain things when they are high, such as driving. At my church we take wine for communion, to many religions alcohol is forbidden and in my church drugs are prohibited, so we all have different practices depending on our history. I believe that if a religion is allowed to use hallucinogenic substances that they should have to carry a permit with them and they should have restrictions while they are on the drugs. They should also have punishments if they commit crimes while high and should be banned from using again.
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Visonary cactus guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.lycaeum.org/~iamklaus/native.htm
History of the rastafari movement. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.providence.edu/polisci/students/rasta/History.htm
Barret, Leondard. (1997, December). The Rastafarians. Retrieved from http://www.rootsreggaeclub.com/culture_reggae_afro/the_rastafarians/the_rastafarians_main.htm
Emery, Marc. (2009, August 28). Rastafari: the secret history of the marijuana religion. Cannibus Culture, Retrieved from http://www.cannabisculture.com/v2/content/rastafari-secret-history-marijuana-religion
Lemons, Steven. (2009). Arizona's marijuana-worshipping church of cognizance seeks a legal, spiritual high. 420 Magazine, Retrieved from http://www.420magazine.com/forums/international-cannabis-news/89865-arizonas-marijuana-worshipping-church-cognizance-seeks-legal-spiritual-high.html