Inmate Suing for Right to Smoke Cannabis as Part of His Religious Practice
Rastafarian inmate James Rose has sued the South Carolina Department of Corrections for violation of his religious freedoms while imprisoned. Primary among his demands are that his jailers allow him to grow out his dreadlocks and smoke marijuana, a cornerstone practice of the faith that originated in Jamaica. In his lawsuit, Rose reports that his dreadlocks were forcibly shaved in the prison.
“The injuries I’ve sustained related to the events were migraine headaches, psychological trauma, mental anguish (depression), panic attacks, and nightmares,” Rose wrote in the handwritten document that he filed on Monday. The 41-year-old is suing the department to the tune of $1 million in punitive and actual damages. Rose is currently serving a life sentence in the maximum security McCormick Correctional Institution due to charges stemming from the 2013 murder of Lincolnville resident Leland Shannon Jr.
Traditionally, Rastafarians consume marijuana for a variety of reasons, among them to aid meditation, produce heightened feelings of community, and to invoke religious visions. Cannabis usage stems from various scriptures from the Christian Bible, including Revelation 22:2, which states “the leaves of the tree served to heal the nations.” Rastafarians often refer to cannabis as lamb’s bread, callie, iley, wisdom weed, or