The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu has defended his statement on Rastafarianism and smoking weed.

Following the refusal of Achimota School to enrol some 2 Rastafarians because of their dreadlocks, the nation has engaged in a debate over the school’s decision.

While debating the matter in Parliament last week, Mr Osei Owusu stated that the debate should not be based on religious grounds as that might complicate matters for the children, since smoking weed forms part of the tenets of the Rastafarian religion.

Also, considering the fact that smoking weed remains illegal in the country, he was concerned that stakeholders in the educational sector may use that argument against the students. He, therefore, advised that the argument be based on whether Achimota School as an institution has the right to deny any student enrolment based on their hair.

However, a section of Ghanaians condemned his statement, asking the First Deputy Speaker to retract and apologise.

But Mr Osei-Owusu disagrees. “Retract a fact? Why should I retract a fact? But it is not for me to apologize for a fact,” he stated.

“The position I stated, I still stand by it. If you say that the young man as a faith practitioner to wear the dreadlocks, then you complicate the matter for him because if we accept that then he can argue that as part of my faith, I am entitled to smoke weed. That is the argument I am making.

“But if we discuss it as a hairstyle and move on to discuss if Achimota school is entitled to make room regarding my hairstyle. Do the rules they have made infringe on my right? Are the rules sensible? Then you are leaving out what other things can happen. And I was hoping this is the discussion we make,” he stated.

During an interview with JoyNews’ Kwesi Parker-Wilson, he added that based on his research from both international and local sources smoking weed is one of the well-known rites and beliefs of the Rastafari religion.

“I will point you to the site, it is not even Google. It is stated clearly that how they interact with God. I will give you two articles. Yes, when you get into a trance that is meditation with God. That is their belief. I didn’t create that,” he said.

Admittedly, he stated that not all Rastafarians may smoke weed, just as not all Christians may believe in or practise all the demands of the religion. That, however, according to him, does not negate those religious requirements.

“The fact that I am a Christian but I don’t follow all the Christian principles does not change the principles of Christianity. So if you are a Rastafarian but you don’t follow some of the religious practices, it doesn’t change that the religion believes in that,” he stated.