Woman jailed for smuggling ‘medical marijuana’

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A mother who smuggled 1,430 grams of cannabis products into Bermuda to treat her seizures was jailed for three months yesterday.

Natasha York, 41, told the court cannabis was her only relief from seizures that were responsible for the loss of her job, her ability to drive and caused her several injuries.

She said: “My tongue is scarred on both sides. I walk with pain all of the time but I refuse to give in. I’m sick and tired. The Bermuda Government, the doctors, they need to help me.”

The court heard York had suffered seizures for several years, sometimes as many as four a day. York added the seizures had severely affected the life of her and her daughters.

She said: “My children have revived me and saved me numerous times.

“They have been exposed to my mutilating myself and they know if they try to help me, I could hurt them.”

But magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo told the defendant: “The law is the law, and the place you need to go to make representations about changing the law is not here before me.

“I accept that the drugs were not intended for commercial purpose, but the importation was calculated. You knew what you were doing was illegal.”

He added: “It doesn’t look like desperation. It must have been determination.”

Mr Tokunbo said that given the amount of the drugs and the state of the law, a prison sentence had to be imposed.

He sentenced York to 12 months in prison, but suspended nine months of the sentence for a year.

Magistrates’ Court heard York was arrested at the LF Wade International Airport on May 28 last year after Customs officers found packages of hemp oil and hemp butter under her clothes.

Analysis of the two packages revealed they contained 1,430.7 grams of cannabis with an estimated street value of $71,525.

Paul Wilson, representing York, said conventional medication had no effect on York’s seizures. But he read the court a statement by Kyjuan Brown, medical director for Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Centre, which said medical marijuana had helped York’s condition.

Dr Brown said: “When this patient consumes medical marijuana either via oral drops or inhalation, her symptoms abate completely.

She no longer suffers seizures, nausea and visual auras.

“Her life essentially returned to normal within minutes.”

Mr Wilson said York had asked for permission to use medical marijuana and received it months after her arrest.

But he said York acted out of desperation when the application was at first refused.

He said she sold her televisions to pay for a trip to Canada and pawned jewellery to buy the cannabis.

Mr Wilson said: “She bought so much because she knew she would not have been able to afford to go back to Canada.

“Her intention was clearly to purchase a sufficient amount to hold her until she received her licence.”

Mr Wilson said York had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty at an early stage and asked for a conditional discharge because of the “exceptional” circumstances.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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