Reggae star Buju Banton faces drug trial in Florida

On his upcoming album “Before the Dawn,” Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton crows about standing strong, though battered and bruised, in the face of a gathering darkness.

The songs sound prophetic — the four-time Grammy nominee recorded them before he was arrested on federal cocaine charges last December. The trial is scheduled to start Monday in Tampa — a week before the album’s U.S. release. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

“I’ve been accused, wrongly convicted. Jah knows I’m innocent,” he sings in his gravelly voice, invoking the Rastafarian God. “I’ve been badly singled out by beloved friends … who sold me out.”

Banton recorded the album’s 10 songs last year in Kingston, Jamaica, before his arrest at his Miami-area home on a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. A grand jury indictment also charged him with carrying a firearm during the course of a drug trafficking crime. [Read more...]

Rastafarian wins appeal against conviction in marijuana case in Italy

Rastafarianism Italy’s highest criminal court has ruled that the fact Rastafarians consider marijuana use a religious sacrament should be taken into account if they are tried on trafficking charges, lawyers in a recent case and news reports said Friday.

The Court of Cassation threw out the drug trafficking conviction of a 44-year-old Italian Rastafarian, ruling that the amount he possessed was in line with the heavy use that comes with his religious beliefs. [Read more...]