TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11: A tourist was today given a conditional discharge after he admitted cannabis possession on a cruise ship.
Johnny Nunez, 28, was charged with one count of cannabis possession on October 10 in Sandys.
The court heard Nunez, of New York, was a passenger on board the Explorer of the Seas.
At 10:44am, customs officers were conducting searches on the ship and had reason to search his cabin.
The officers were alerted to a safe and inside they found a plastic bag with plantlike material.
Nunez was arrested at 2:15pm that day and admitted the 5g of cannabis belonged to him.
Duty counsel Saul Dismont told Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner that the amount was “slightly” above the caution given and asked for a conditional discharge.
He told the court Nunez had the drugs in a safe and had no intention of selling them.
Mr Dismont also told the court a conviction would be “detrimental” to his client’s employment with a cruise ship company.
Mr Warner said dealing with tourists when it comes to drug possession is “vexing if not embarrassing” for the courts.
“For a number of obvious reasons including this cut off point as it relates to the DPP’s policy of not prosecuting people if certain criteria is met.
“One of these criteria is the amount of drugs, not necessarily the charge that is brought thus. For instance, a person who is charged for personal use, say six grams of cannabis, may be prosecuted in these courts as in this case, yet still a person who has 4.5, just below the cut off point wouldn’t be prosecuted at discretion of the DPP.
“But the DPP is not charged with the adjudication of any court.
“But the difficulty and the embarrassment of this court comes when dealing with these type of offences with these types of amounts.”
He continued: “Not only that, but the distinction as to how locals compare with tourists or how they are to be dealt with in similar circumstances. Then, of course, we have got the law in particular, how the law impacts section 69, conditional discharges and the criteria that must be attached to a conditional discharge.
“It’s time that the authorities, the executives make up their minds and rationlise the law in this area because of where it starts is causing, say, the least embarrassment in dealing with these cases.
“One way or another, this court cannot and will not shrink from its duties.
“In these offences, the court should at least strive for consistency.”
Nunez was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and must not commit any further offences to avoid a conviction in Bermuda.