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Cannabis importer released on bail

Paul Wilson (Photo by Akil Simmons)

A woman jailed for importing cannabis to treat her seizures has been released on bail.

Natasha York, a 41-year-old mother of two, was released from custody last Friday, four days after she was sentenced to serve three months behind bars.

Lawyer Paul Wilson said it is common for those appealing sentences to be given bail until the appeal is decided, if the courts do not believe there is a risk of the person fleeing the country or committing further offences.

Mr Wilson said: “The rationale is that the court doesn’t want someone behind bars if they can avoid it.

“Sometimes there are many conditions to bail. In Ms York’s case, her travel documents have had to be submitted, she will be made to report to Hamilton police station until she can be fitted with an electronic monitoring device and she has had to provide a $40,000 surety, among other things.

“But at least she is out and can be with her children.”

Ms York was arrested at LF Wade International Airport after she was found with 1,430 grams of cannabis.

Magistrates’ Court heard she had been suffering intractable seizures for several years with anti-seizure medications having little effect.

Kyjuan Brown, medical director at Northshore Medical and Aesthetics Centre, said cannabis had completely halted her seizures.

York applied for a licence to import medical marijuana, but decided to illegally bring the drugs to the island after her application was refused.

Her licence has since been approved.

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

Ms York filed an appeal against her sentence on the grounds that, given her unusual circumstances, the magistrate should have used his discretion to suspend the entire sentence.