American Tourist Fined $1,000 For Marijuana

September 22, 2011

In Magistrates Court this morning [Sept.22], 35-year-old American tourist Gabriel Rivera pleaded guilty to possession of 6.0 grams of cannabis.

The DPP’s evidence was that on the afternoon of 21 September 2011, Bermuda Customs officers working with a canine unit for interdicting illegal drugs had been attracted to cabin 9073 on board the cruise-ship Norwegian Gem.

At the time of detection, the cabin was unoccupied, and a search of the cabin found a plastic bag containing plant material.

Mr Rivera arrived later, admitted to occupying the cabin and admitted ownership of the package. He was then arrested, escorted off the ship, and taken to Somerset Police Station. On analysis, the plant material was found to be cannabis weighing 6.0 grams.

The DPP Prosecutor said that the amount was twice the 3.0 gram upper limit guideline which set the limit which could be handled by a different process and that Mr Rivera’s case had been vetted by the DPP’s office.

Magistrate Archie Warner fined the tourist $1,000 or 90 days prison in default and ordered that the fine be paid forthwith.

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Comments (56)

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  1. Bermyman says:

    Good Job BDA customs, This guy was clearly dangerous to society with his small amount of weed!

  2. Terry says:

    Dumb fool………

    Should have taken the 90 days.

    All that money for a cruise and he could have spent three months in Bermuda…….?

    Nax tyme eye cum um bringing a pound…….detz rite……….

  3. True Bermudian. says:

    And yet he would have been allowed to get off the ship and buy cigarettes and alcohol. BOTH of which kill over half a million people every year.

    The amount of people killed due to cannabis: 0.

    Learn the facts and legalise it.

    Alcohol is a drug. Cannabis is a natural plant that grows from the ground. There are hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths each year, yet there has never been a marijuana overdose death in history. The consumption of alcohol is also the direct cause of tens of thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year.

    In 2001, there were 331 alcohol overdose deaths and 0 marijuana overdose deaths. Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Source:

    Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States and is associated with multiple adverse health consequences, including liver cirrhosis, various cancers, unintentional injuries, and violence.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 20,687 “alcohol-induced deaths” (excluding accidents and homicides) in 2003. Source:

    The CDC has no reports of “marijuana-induced deaths.”

    There is little evidence, however, that long-term cannabis use causes permanent cognitive impairment, nor is there is any clear cause and effect relationship to explain the psychosocial associations.

    The latest and most comprehensive research on marijuana has concluded that it does not contribute to the development of lung cancer. Source:

    There has never been a documented case of lung cancer in a marijuana-only smoker, and recent studies find that marijuana use is not associated with any type of cancer. The same cannot be said for alcohol, which has been found to contribute to a variety of long-term negative health effects, including cancers and cirrhosis of the liver.

    Alcohol use contributes to aggressive behavior and acts of violence, whereas marijuana use reduces the likelihood of violent behavior.

    Alcohol is clearly the drug with the most evidence to support a direct intoxication-violence relationship.

    Cannabis reduces likelihood of violence during intoxication… Source: Hoaken, Peter N.S., Sherry H. Stewart. Journal of Addictive Behaviors. 28, pages 1533-1554. Drugs of abuse and the elicitation of human aggressive behavior. Dept. of Psychology, University of Western Ontario. Dept. of of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University.

    Alcohol use is highly associated with violent crime, whereas marijuana use is not.

    About 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have been drinking at the time of the offense.

    Two-thirds of victims who suffered violence by an intimate (a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend) reported that alcohol had been a factor.

    Among spouse victims, 3 out of 4 incidents were reported to have involved an offender who had been drinking. Source: U.S. Department of Justice. Bureau of Justice Statistics. National Crime Victimization Survey 2002.

    Alcohol use contributes to the likelihood of domestic violence and sexual assault and marijuana use does not.

    Of the psychoactive substances examined, among individuals who were chronic partner abusers, the use of alcohol and cocaine was associated with significant increases in the daily likelihood of male-to-female physical aggression; cannabis and opiates were not significantly associated with an increased likelihood of male partner violence.

    …the odds of any male-to-female physical aggression were more than 8 times (11 times) higher on days when men drank than on days of no alcohol consumption. The odds of severe male-to-female physical aggression were more than 11 times (11 times) higher on days of men’s drinking than on days of no drinking. Moreover, in both samples, over 60% of all episodes occurred within 2 hours of drinking by the male partner. Source: Fals-Stewart , William, James Golden, Julie A. Schumacher. Journal of Addictive Behaviors. 28, pages 1555-1574. Intimate partner violence and substance use: A longitudinal day-to-day examination. Research Institute on Addictions, University at Buffalo, State University of New York
    Alcohol use is prevalent in cases of sexual assault and date rape on college campuses, whereas marijuana use is not considered a contributing factor in cases of sexual assault and date rape.

    A Harvard School of Public Heath study found that 72 percent of college rapes occurred when the female was too intoxicated by alcohol to resist/consent. Source:

    Comparisons between alcohol and marijuana with respect to sexual assault are very difficult. This is because it does not appear as if marijuana is a significant contributing factor. The best way to “prove” this is through observation that many organizations dedicated to studying and educating about sexual assault do not list marijuana as a substance associated with incidents. Here is a good example from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network:

    Note their description of alcohol: “Alcohol is the most commonly used chemical in drug facilitated sexual assault. In large part this is due to the fact that alcohol is easily accessible and a chemical that many people use in social interactions.” Given the fact that marijuana is also “easily accessible” and used widely in “social interactions,” it is quite telling that marijuana is not even listed at all on this “Drug Facilitated Assault” page.

    Another example: A Web site sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services lists alcohol, but not marijuana, as putting a person at risk for unwanted or risky sexual activity:
    Alcohol use contributes to reckless behavior and serious injuries, and it is highly associated with emergency room visits, whereas marijuana use does not contribute to such behavior and injuries, and is seldomly associated with emergency room visits.

    “Cannabis differs from alcohol … in one major respect. It does not seem to increase risk-taking behavior. This means that cannabis rarely contributes to violence either to others or to oneself, whereas alcohol use is a major factor in deliberate self-harm, domestic accidents and violence.” Source: British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, 2002.

    • Sandgrownan says:

      Where to begin..first alcohol is a naturally occuring substance. Second..from Wikipedia, a drug, broadly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function. It’s as good a definition as you’ll get.

      So, depsite your protestations, “weed” is a drug. While there is no doubt excessive alcohol and even moderate tabacco usage can be damaging to health and interactiosn with others, to claim “weed” is harmless is beyonf f*cking stupid.

      Now, go and roll a joint and withdraw from society and leave it to adults.

      • True Bermudian. says:

        Written like a true brainwashed ignoramus.

      • True Bermudian. says:

        Learn your facts sandgrowup.

        Tobacco causes 400,000 deaths a year in the USA alone. Cannabis causes none.

        All current non biased tests conducted by established and respected Universities such as Harvard and Oxford point to Cannabis being less harmful to humans than Coffee.

        FACT: Coffee is more addictive and harmful to humans than Cannabis.

        FACT: Cigarettes kill over a million people worldwide every YEAR.

        FACT: Cannabis causes no deaths worldwide.

        FACT: Cannabis is not bad for humans.

        You, Sandgrowupandlearn, have no idea of what you are talking about when it comes to Cannabis.

        The facts I have presented here are TRUE and have been verified by credited scientists and universities WAY smarter than you.

        Keep your head in the sand like a lemming while the rest of us free thinkers exist off our knees able to see the world as it really is with open minds and hearts.

        • Sandgrownan says:

          Just because you capitalise the word “fact” it doesn’t make it so.

      • True Bermudian. says:

        And another thing: Why did you have to curse at the end of your little ignorant uninformed tirade about Cannabis?

        Bermuda and the world: I present to you another case in human history where someone who gets frustrated at their own ignorance and stupidity has to curse in order to get their ill informed uneducated point across.

        • Sandgrownan says:

          Mainly because everytime somebody gets busted for weed, we endure a whole pile of steaming turds about “whahaa alcohol whahaha it’s just a plant”. It’s bollocks.

          • Denial says:

            How about you don’t read or comment if you don’t like what people say? I find it amusing that you get so distraught when people discuss the hypocrisy behind cannabis prohibition. The comparison of alcohol and cigs being legal is MORE than enough proof that cannabis prohibition is nothing more than a hypocrisy by governments that are RUN by the pharmaceutical, tobacco, and liquor industry. If you can sit there and say it’s not hypocrisy, I have to assume that you either not educated on the subject as you would like to believe or you work in an industry that stand to lose heavily if this were to change.

            • Sandgrownan says:

              Oh, christ the big pharma boogeyman argument. Here we go again….

              • Denial says:

                Oh boy you just made things very clear for me. If you are in denial about the influence of big-pharmacy then you truly are clueless OR you work in the industry. Those are the only two options for you, I wonder which one it is?

                • Sandgrownan says:

                  hmmmm…big business stops you having a quiet toke at home…the b#stards eh?

                  • Denial says:

                    FYI, I don’t smoke weed. It’s about human rights. You can’t understand that can you?

                    • Sandgrownan says:

                      What about my human rights if soemone high crashes into me in a car/boat/ferry/bus?

                      Right now, there are laws against driving while drunk, breath tests, legislation, etc. If we have the same for weed, then I’ll perhaps think about it.

                      Human rights? Give me break. It’s not a human rights issue.

                    • Denial says:

                      Then you request a drug test and go from there. You’re logic is flawed…

                    • Denial says:

                      It IS a human rights issue when a government does not allow you to grow a naturally occurring herb and they can incarcerate you for growing said naturally occurring herb!! People have done life in prison for growing plants, SO YES IT IS A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE.

                    • Sandgrownan says:

                      So what you’re saying is, becasue it’s a plant, I have to take my chances?

                    • My two cents says:

                      No that is not what I am saying.

      • True Bermudian. says:

        Oh… and FYI: Your source of reference was Wikipedia.

        Not exactly the bastion of credibility there.

        • Sandgrownan says:

          bwwahahaha! You need a smoke to reeeelax.

          Wikipedia was merely used to define the term “drug’. It’s a loose definition but works quite well.

          • True Bermudian. says:

            Again, you have no evidence where I have presented facts from the CDC, Harvard and Oxford University.

            • Sandgrownan says:

              Because, all you have done is point out that while intoxicated with alcohol, some people, behave badly. It’s not news, nor an argument for hte legalisation of weed. Get it?

      • CommonSense says:

        So… if a bullet is absorbed into the body and the normal bodily function is altered… is it a drug?

  4. Finally the herbs come aground says:

    @True Bermudian

    You’re wasting your time making an educated argument in favor of relaxed marijuana laws. No one who can do anything about amending legislation reads online posts, and even if they do, would not publicly support decriminalization.

    An alternative solution is to have an organized ‘session’ outside the House of Assembly when it is in, well, in session. I challenge you to find 100 locals who will join you for a simultaneous (protest) blaze. Maybe then you will get attention for the cause, similar to how gang violence and theft speaks on behalf of the poor.

    Yours in Peace

    • Sandgrownan says:

      What, while the rest of us are contributing to society?

      • True Bermudian. says:

        How exactly are you contributing headinthesand? If you mean you are contributing to the uneducated uninformed ignorance sector: then yes. You contribute a great deal.

        It seems in your alcohol caffeine induced frenzy of anger and foolishness you are always on Bernews kicking up about one thing or another.

        Attacking this person or that when they don’t agree with your pathetic ignorant small minded misinformed philistine backward view of the world.

        Get your facts straight before you come to the table and try to chant down things you clearly know nothing about.

        Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol, cigarettes and whatever else you choose to pollute your body with.

        Your stupidity on the matter is evidenced by your first response up top when you said: “first alcohol is a naturally occuring substance.”

        Really? Is there an alcohol tree that grows from the ground and produces little bottles of Black Rum and Jack Daniels and Sagres Beer for us all to drink? What a wonderful tree this must be to have.

        Cannabis grows from the ground and can be harvested to make medicines. Oils. Papers. Clothing. It’s not just for people to smoke recreationally in the privacy of their own homes.

        • Sandgrownan says:

          God, you’re stupid.

          What other activity do you condone in the “privacy of your own home”?

          • True Bermudian. says:

            Again with the pathetic attacks by a truly pathetic human being.

            Whatever you say is based in aggression, ignorance and blind stupidity and you are incapable of actually listening to reason and scientific evidence. Your mind is to small to grasp the complexity of it all.

            As such it’s time to end this debate, which I clearly won.

            Goodbye Philistine.

            Keep your hand in the sand. I’m now done speaking with you.

            • Sandgrownan says:

              So tell me, how the health and behavoural effects of alcohol and tobacco lead to an argument for the legalisation of weed. In your own words please.

              Don’t tell anyone – alcohol occurs naturally….

              • My two cents says:

                Hmmm let’s see. We allow/glorify several substances(alcohol,sugar,cigs,prescription drugs) that DIRECTLY kill thousands of people every year, yet we won’t allow a person to freely ingest a plant that has never directly killed a single soul? And you can’t see how that is hypocritical?
                So are we a society in which our government tells it’s people what they can and can’t put into their own bodies? An alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, benzo, diet coke or sugar addict would say YES. A person who uses pot would say NO. Shouldn’t the answer be the same? Otherwise it is hypocritical. That means that the reasons for prohibition have NOTHING to do with it’s ill effects on society. And that means that prohibition is nothing more than a farce. Therefore, if you are against the legalization of marijuana, YOU SHOULD be for the prohibition of alcohol, cigs, food additives/chemicals, sugar and caffeine if your argument is the least bit credible. Otherwise your argument is null and void.

                • Sandgrownan says:

                  The reason for prohibition of “veed” may well be lost in history, but it’s not an argument for legalisation.

                  Smoking weed is not a risk free pursuit.

                  • My two cents says:

                    Neither is smoking cigs, drinking alcohol, drinking diet coke, caffeine, big-pharma drugs, or texting while driving.

                  • My two cents says:

                    No, the SYSTEM’S logic is flawed and you unfortunately don’t have any.

                    • Sandgrownan says:

                      Hmm..the system…this would be the system that’s making it increasingly difficult for tobacco smokers. The system that is less and less tolerant of alcohol fueled crime? So, because alcohol and tobacco are legal weed should be too?

                    • My two cents says:

                      They are STILL LEGAL. Um tobacco smokers should NOT be affecting other people with their smoke and neither should a pot smoker. These things SHOULD have had these types of regulation from the get go. Just like pot should be regulated.

                    • My two cents says:

                      No, because we can freely consume TONS of toxic s$#t that isn’t safe that is legal and dangerous. It should either be that way or NOT be that way.

                    • Sandgrownan says:

                      Too simplistic

                    • My two cents says:

                      Exactly! Things become overly complicated when they don’t make sense. That is how the government gets away with all the hypocritical crap that goes on. They make it “complicated” hoping you won’t figure out that things really are simple if they make sense. And when they don’t make sense “it’s complicated”.

  5. YES MATE! says:

    I guess this is one way to get a cruise ship passenger to spend more than the $210 they usually spend. I am pretty sure we don’t have to worry about Mr Rivera or his family or any of his friends ever coming to Bermuda again. What little work is being done to attract tourists here is being undone by customs and the bobbylon over a tiny amount of harmless plant material. This hardly seems fair to anyone. If this is a crime, there must be a victim somewhere, and I would like that victim to tell us how this guy and his quarter negatively impacted your life.

  6. g man says:

    Now i’m no lawyer but I thought that to be charged with a crime there has to be at least one of three things-
    an injured party
    a deposable witness
    a filed sworn complaint
    again i’m no lawyer but there’s something not quite right with our injustice system

  7. The Future says:

    From the irrational organized ignorant statements by some posted here, it appears tourists aren’t the only users…

  8. jumpup says:

    I have an ideer, lets invite people to our island and arrest them for speeding or not wearing they shirts, or parking wrong, how about for wondering about in a vagrant manor looking at Forts…. why stop with cruise ships… let randomly search hotel rooms and seize all sorts. Imagine what we could find if we really look at the tourist epidemic more closely. I mean forget about the local problems….

  9. Say Say Say says:

    Ridiculous. The weed wasn’t even in Bermuda – it was in his cabin. This sort of thing will just drive tourists to somewhere with a more modern outlook. This makes Bermuda look like a bunch of miserable old fashioned farts.

    Get into this century (or even the last one) Bermuda.

  10. Enquiring says:

    Why limit this pseudo unconstitutional behaviour to the cruise ships? Let’s do some local “random” searches with the dogs being sent into the houses of MPs and Senators. After all they make the laws. Bet there’d be some interesting finds.

  11. Islander says:

    I have a question? Are we the only island who sends custom officers on board the ship, because I do cruises every year and been to many islands and have never seen a custom official near the ship. Just wondering?

    • My two cents says:

      Crazy, shoot ourselves in the foot Bermuda. Got to love it!

    • Sandgrownan says:

      Well, I suspect the motive for gonig aboard crusie ships is that it’s identified as a major import avenue. Tourists with weed for personal use get caught up in it. If the ship is here, it’s inside Bermuda territorial waters. That makes havign weed illegal, rightly or wrongly, it’s illegal and the passengers know, or should know that. Ignorance of hte law is no defence.

      Jesus – anyone have any personal responsibility on this rock?

      • Islander says:

        And places like Jamaica and Bahamas aren’t?, don’t get me wrong I’m not in favour of weed at all, I was simply wondering because I have yet to see any kinda of custom officials in those islands on any ship ive been on.

      • star man says:

        If it’s such an “import avenue” how come Customs haven’t made any Cruise Ship busts over 6 grams? Customs have been warned by a local Magistrate that they may be stepping on a passenger’s civil rights by entering is cabin when he is not there and searching it with dogs.

        On Aug 13th Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner said:

        “I see on all these summaries of evidence that customs officers are carrying out random searches on people’s rooms.
        “Who told customs officers they can carry out random searches?”
        Crown counsel Tawana Tannock told Mr Warner she wasn’t instructed on that question.
        Mr Warner then said: “Can the police or customs just go in anybody’s room whether hotel or ship and search them?”
        Ms Tannock said: “I can’t speak to that.”
        The magistrate replied: “Like a hotel room or somebody’s house, people pay good money for the cruise room. So you all may be looking to get sued.”

        Just another reason NOT to come to Bermuda.

  12. star man says:

    We’ll never be able to convince a small ‘c’ conservative, non-cannabis-smoker that weed is a relatively safe & enjoyable, non-aggressive, recreational drug. Until you have enjoyed smoking it yourself you really wouldn’t know, would you. BTW, the reasons for the original criminalization of marijuana has not been lost in history. I’m sure you’ll want to do your homework to get your facts correct.