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Inmate says religion entitles him to smoke pot in prison

Updated December 16, 2018 - 2:11 pm

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina inmate has filed a federal lawsuit against the state prisons department, accusing the agency of violating his religious freedoms by not allowing him to smoke marijuana or keep his hair in dreadlocks.

In a suit filed last Monday, inmate James Rose accused the South Carolina Department of Corrections of violating his constitutional rights be refusing to give him marijuana “as part of the Rastafarian religious practice.”

Rose also said that the agency unlawfully required him to shave his dreadlocks, arguing that he should be allowed to grow his hair to “unlimited length” as part of his religion. According to the lawsuit, Rose said that prison officials held him down and shaved his head after he asked for pot in April 2017.

“The injuries I’ve sustained related to the events were migraine headaches, psychological trauma, mental anguish (depression), panic attacks, and nightmares,” Rose said in the handwritten lawsuit, which seeks $1 million in punitive and actual damages.

Rose, 41, is serving a life sentence following a 2013 murder conviction. According to authorities, he was involved in the execution-style murder of the son of a town council member in Lincolnville.

The prisons agency doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

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