Oct 31, 2015

Rasta tells Worcester court: "Weed is my religion."

James Connell
Worcester News
October 30, 2015

Rasta tells Worcester court: "Weed is my religion."
Rasta tells Worcester court: "Weed is my religion."
A RASTAFARIAN challenged magistrates about why he should be punished for smoking cannabis, claiming it was part of his religion.

Lisimba Germaine was arrested in Ronkswood, Worcester after a struggle with police officers.

A small amount of cannabis was found hidden in his socks when he was brought into custody at the city's police station.

The 32-year-old father-of-three admitted being in possession of the class B drug on July 10 when he appeared at Worcester Magistrates Court on Friday but questioned why he was being punished as smoking a spliff is part of his religion.

Lesley Ashton, prosecuting, said: "Police officers stopped a vehicle in Ronkswood in Worcester. The only occupant was the defendant.

"Officers spoke to him and he tried to get out of the car. Officers prevented that and there was a struggle and he was restrained.

"During the course of the police investigation the defendant was arrested and conveyed to custody at the police station. As part of the booking in procedure he was made subject to a strip search. A small amount of cannabis was found concealed inside his socks."

A search of his home in Privet Close, Great Barr was carried out and in his bedroom, in a set of drawers, police recovered two small wraps of cannabis.

Germaine, who represented himself at the hearing, said he was unemployed and had a newborn baby which he was trying to bond with and two other, older children.

He said: "I smoke. I do that. That's the only thing I do do. I'm a Rastafarian. It's in my religion. As a medicinal drug I don't see anything wrong with it. I know it's illegal but it is something I do. Sorry for any inconvenience I may have caused."

Paul Denham, the chairman of the magistrates bench, told Germaine that possession of the drug was against the law.

But Germaine said: "It was only a very small amount. It is my religion to smoke."

Mr Denham responded and told Germaine: "It is against the law in this country. Our hands are tied."

Germaine was told he would have to pay £385 in total, comprised of an £80 fine, £105 court costs, a £180 court charge and a £20 victim surcharge.

But Germaine said the police had taken his belongings following the search, including his car, his phone and some money. He told magistrates that would be around the equivalent of the total he had been asked to pay.

Germaine asked what would happen if he refused to pay (the cash would be deducted from his benefits) and was warned by the clerk he could be imprisoned and that bailiffs could become involved.

"I don't think it's fair. I don't see how it's helping me. The money is going in your pocket and making you richer" said Germaine.


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