Saturday 21 September, 2019

Corporate Area spiritual leader welcomes plan to repeal Obeah Act

A well-known spiritual leader in Kingston has welcomed the announcement by the Government of its intention to repeal the more than 100-year-old Obeah Act.

The spiritual leader said he is happy to hear about the move as this could mean that he will be allowed to practise his craft free of the fear of prosecution.

While welcoming the news, however, he sought to bash the Government over the length of time it took to move in the direction of repealing the Obeah Act.

The obeah man described the whole move as one filled with high levels of hypocrisy, stating that it was unfortunate how those in power have generally sought to ridicule the practices that were brought to the island’s shores by their ancestors, but at the same time, has wholeheartedly embraced the Christian faith that was introduced by colonial masters.

“They seek to lash out at obeah, but fail to realise that these are practices handed down from our forefathers, and are very much a part of our culture when we talk about people such as heroine Nanny and so many others who we hear so much about how they used parts of the obeah practice to fight her oppressors, but today something that is very much a part of us (Jamaicans), is being swept under the carpet for other religions that were passed down by oppressors,” said the militant spiritual leader, who runs a thriving business in the Corporate Area.

The spiritual leader, who requested anonymity, said he continues to use obeah to heal and otherwise help those in need.

He said while he welcomes the move by the Government, he is worried that even if steps are taken to repeal the Obeah Act, the move is likely not to go far enough.

“Would it be a half-way move with a lot of strict rules and regulations remaining, like what obtains for marijuana, were it remains illegal, but possession of small amounts was reduced to a petty offence in 2015?" asked the spiritual leader who said he has faced years of persecution because he practises the 'dark arts'.

In February 2015, Jamaica's legislature voted to amend the nation's cannabis laws.

As it now stands, possession of up to 2 ounces (56.6 grams) is a petty offence, and will not result in a criminal record; cultivation of five or fewer plants is permitted, and practitioners of the Rastafari faith may use cannabis for religious purposes.

Additionally,

·        Tourists with a prescription for medical marijuana may apply for permits to purchase small amounts

·        The amendments open the possibility of a licensing authority to deal with cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana.

Authorities in Jamaica have, however, warned that they will continue to prosecute traffickers and target the international cannabis trade.

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