Canadian Says He Thought Medical Marijuana Was Legal

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A CANADIAN who claimed he brought $230,000 worth of marijuana into the country because he was under the impression that medicinal marijuana was legal in The Bahamas was yesterday fined $50,000.

William McDonald, 60, was arrested at Lynden Pindling International Airport, after officers found 42.2 pounds of Indian hemp among his personal belongings on October 4.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess dangerous drugs with the intent to supply, possession of dangerous drugs with the intent to supply, conspiracy to import dangerous drugs and importation of dangerous drugs, during his arraignment before Senior Magistrate Derence Rolle Davis.

The court was told that around 1.30pm on the day in question, a crew of officers on mobile patrol at LPIA told McDonald that he would be searched after they suspected he was in possession of dangerous drugs. The prosecution said when police examined McDonald’s belongings, they found 12 sealed packages in one suitcase, 15 sealed packages in a second piece of luggage, 11 sealed packages in a third luggage case and four clear sealed packages in a fourth one. All of the packages contained marijuana the court was told. When McDonald was questioned, he claimed he received permission from a person who said they worked for “the government”. He was subsequently arrested. During his interview with police, he declined to comment.

Yesterday, McDonald’s attorney told the magistrate his client was a former cancer patient who was currently in remission. He said that McDonald came from a jurisdiction where medicinal cannabis was legal and made a “silly mistake” by bringing the parcels into the country thinking The Bahamas was like Canada in respect to the legalisation of the drug for medical purposes.

In response, Magistrate Rolle Davis said while he considered the plea in mitigation, he still had an issue with the quantity of drugs McDonald attempted to bring into the country. As a result, he fined the Canadian $50,000 or two years in prison.

Meanwhile, a couple caught with $20 worth of marijuana they claimed they purchased to smoke in order to “relax” were both placed on a year’s probation.

Police arrested Raheem Malcolm, 25, and Vernika Cooper, 23, after they found eight grams of Indian hemp in their car on October 3.

The prosecution said that around 11.40 that night, officers on duty in the Fox Hill area noticed a car driving suspiciously. As a result, they beckoned for the vehicle to stop and informed its two occupants that they would be searched in reference to dangerous drugs and firearms. During their investigation, Cooper emptied her bag which led to the discovery of five silver foil wraps with marijuana. Cooper and Malcolm were subsequently arrested and taken to the Drug Enforcement Unit. In an interview there, they both said they had the drugs for their personal use.

Yesterday, Malcolm told the magistrate he bought the marijuana after coming home from a “long day of work”. He claimed he wanted to smoke the drugs to “take stuff off of his mind and relax.” Cooper also said she smoked marijuana to help ease her anxiety and insomnia.

In response, Magistrate Rolle Davis told the couple they had to find another way to “take their minds off of the troubles of life.” He said because they were both adults, they were now at the point where they “ought to be mature.” As a result, he placed them both on probation for one year.

If Cooper and Malcolm are convicted of a similar offence within that time frame, they could risk spending two months in prison.

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