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American tourist given 30 days in jail, $3,000 fine

US tourist gets 30 days in Bermuda jail

May 25, 2011

An American tourist was today jailed for importing 35 grams of cannabis, used for medicinal purposes.

Edith Lord Wolffe, 59, of California, pleaded guilty in Magistrates’ court to importing the drug on May 17.

The court heard from Crown counsel Tawana Tannock that Wolffe arrived in Bermuda on a commercial airline from New York at 8:40pm.

She cleared immigration and at the customs line, was selected for a secondary inspection.

During the search, an officer opened one of her three suitcases and found a plastic bag containing a homemade cigarette inside her toiletries bag.

Asked what it was, she said marijuana.

The search continued and officers found six plastic bags with a total of 14 homemade cigarettes in her luggage.

She was then arrested for importing the drugs and told officers she smokes marijuana for her Ménière's disease.

During mitigation, lawyer Mark Pettingill told Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner that his client had a prescription for the marijuana from her doctor as she suffers from the chronic illness.

Ménière's disease is an inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing.

Mr Pettingill said: “This lady is from California which seems to have the right approach when it comes to the legality of marijuana in particular instances.

“In the state of California, cannabis is prescribed as treating her disease.”

Mr Pettingill then gave the Magistrate a copy of a medical certificate with the illness and prescription outlined on it.

But Mr Warner said: “In California, people can get a firearms license and walk around with it. You bring it to Bermuda and you get in trouble.”

Mr Pettingill then said: “You must put this particular lady in a different category than just the person who shows up for a weekend trip and wants to smoke a lot of weed.”

The Magistrate said: “She must be aware of the attitude of the courts for drugs in Bermuda if she’s a frequent visitor.”

But Mr Pettingill said: “Simply put, it’s a poke. It’s brought here by a lady who had an existing medical condition.

“She uses marijuana for her medical condition.

“It should be dealt with by way of a fine and it shouldn’t be exuberant.”

During sentencing, Mr Warner maintained that Wolffe knowingly imported the drugs and should have known the “attitude” on drugs in the courts of Bermuda.

“I am of the view that this matter calls for an immediate custodial sentence.”

Wolffe was given 30 days in jail and a $3,000 fine.

US tourist gets 30 days in Bermuda jail
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