Cruise Passenger Fined $800 For Cannabis

September 14, 2012

Lawyer Marc Pettingill told Senior Magistrate Archie Warner that a honeymooning couple visiting Bermuda on the Norwegian Star, were told to ‘get off the ship’ and were required to leave the cruiseship and find other accommodation ashore.

Mr Pettingill’s statement to the Magistrate came as he offered mitigating circumstances for Mr Steven Friedberg who had earlier pleaded guilty to possessing 6 grams of marijuana.

The drug had been found inside Mr Friedberg’s cabin, inside the safe in that cabin. The drug had been indicated by a sniffer-dog that was part of the Customs team that was searching the Norwegian Star on the morning of 12th September.

After detecting the drug around 10:45am, the team accosted Mr Friedberg when he returned to the ship about four hours later. Mr Friedberg was arrested and taken to Hamilton Police Station and admitted that the drug belonged to him and said that it was for his personal use.

In 10:00am Plea Court on 13th September, when reading the charge, the Senior Magistrate noted that the offence alleged was that of possessing with intent to supply. After questioning the Prosecutor, the Prosecutor amended the charge to simple possession. The Magistrate then asked if the charge had been vetted by the DPP? The Prosecutor replied that she did not know.

Magistrate Warner commented that matters such as these should be properly vetted by the Director of Public Prosecutions before they were brought to Court and that he found himself ‘embarrassed’ by having to handle matters that had not been properly handled by the administrative machinery that was supposed to deal with them.

Mr Pettingill then stepped forward and offered to assist the Court and Mr Friedberg. Mr Pettingill’s offer was accepted as was his recommendation that the matter be put over until 2:30pm that day.

At the continuation hearing, Mr Friedberg maintained his guilty plea and the DPP continued with the charge. Mr Pettingill suggested that the matter could be handled by a Conditional Discharge but the Prosecutor disagreed.

It was during this continuation hearing that Mr Pettingill said that Mr Friedberg and his wife had both been told to “get off the ship and make your own way home”. Magistrate Warner fined Mr Friedberg $800 and required that the fine be paid ‘forthwith’.

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Comments (30)

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  1. Cedar Beams (Original) says:

    New slogan: Bermuda – getting rid of one tourist at a time!

  2. downderoad says:

    I don’t use marijuana and I personally feel it is unhealthy for you (especially if you smoke it), but it is ridiculous that our government harasses our tourist for these personal possessions. I know the Customs officers are trying to do their job of stopping drug importation but chasing after these tourist and arresting them will not solve the problem. Those who are importing drugs into Bermuda are not sneaking it into Bermuda 6 grams at a time with honeymooning couples! How about we get the expensive X-ray machine up and running and spend some money on a proper Coast Guard that monitors our waters.

    Perhaps the powers that be think that chasing after the tourist with small amounts of pot looks good on the news (actually it doesn’t) but it will have the overall effect of stopping tourist like this couple from returning and spending their money on our shores.

    Let’s work SMARTER to eradicate drug importation into Bermuda! It is easy to arrest unsuspecting tourist on cruise boats, how about going after the gangs who use drug sales to boost their power and cash assets. Now that would make a difference on our streets and in our community!

    • ABM says:

      Great ideas, but we don’t have the dollars right now!

    • Tommy Chong says:

      Good ideas but the expensive x-ray machine cannot detect water soluble drugs such as cocaine hydrochloride & heroin diacetylmorphine if they have been submerged in liquid. Also even though this machine will detect certain types of gun metals there are still many ways that are easily sourced to escape detection. They have the same machine on the importation docs in Vancouver but most of the time still have to have highly trained specialty officers to physically check the containers & ships to be 90% effective. This check is done by the specialty officers almost daily with tipoff help from officers on the port of origin side.

    • Mike Hunt says:

      deroad, you make good sense. Drugs will always be available in Bermuda since many of the big importers are politically connected and left to flourish. Customs Officers are following the law and carrying out their duties as directed. The law needs to be changes so law enforcement can focus on the real crimes that are destroying our society. The UBP did not get it and the PLP are painfully more clueless.

  3. fred says:

    What a joke! This place has nothing better to do?!! Why don’t they concentrate their efforts on busting the gangs and getting to the top of their drug dealings? Oops, that’s right, maybe they’ll find someone high up in the system (no pun intended) and that could prove embarrressing. In the U.S. if you were caught with 6 grams of pot the cops would dump it out on the road in front of you and tell you to go on your way. They sure wouldn’t bother searching a cruise ship and going into a locked safe to find that measley amount. Get REAL Bermuda police… do a REAL job and get busy breaking down these gangs… if you can?!

  4. Mad Dawg says:

    So why was Anthony Smith given a Conditional Discgarge for the exact same crime on September 5th? Why should tourists get treated worse than locals for the same crime? What is the legally supportable reason for that?

  5. Amazed says:

    It is time that the DPP evaluate the cost of bringing these minor offences to court and make an informed decision about who is benefiting from them. By all means the searches should continue but a bit of common sense needs to be used here.

    • Tommy Chong says:

      I’m sure they’ve already evaluate the cost of bringing these minor offences to court thoroughly & have found that they make lots more from these fines being in place. Maybe it puts a bigger dent in joepublic’s pocket but for them it’s no sweat & probably wish they could catch 10 tourist a ship so they can rake in thousands in fines during cruise season. To them its not about common sense its about common dollars & cents.

  6. (0.0) says:

    dang! $800?!! that ended up being some expensive weed!

  7. mrwiggin says:

    Stop harassing the few tourists that we have.

  8. Untrue says:

    “the Senior Magistrate noted that the offense alleged was that of possessing with intent to supply.”

    Not true. One must have at least 22 grams and not 6 grams for intent to supply or multiple bags of the “drug”, but I’m glad he didn’t get the normal $1000 for importation.

  9. The couple did it to themselves says:

    Have to laugh at some of these comments stating that the police are harrassing the innocent tourists. This is a very simple concept and i’m surprised the people made it onto the ship with the drugs in the first place.

    I went on a familt cruise this summer and we boarded in Cape Cannaveral and we had to go through US customs just as if we were boarding a plane, with drug sniffing dogs and all. Guess what the first thing the cruise warned passengers about was not to have anything illegal on board ie drugs & weapons because cruise security can search a cabin at any time along with local customs in the various ports.

    I don’t feel any sympathy for these people, they did it to themselves, guess they heard weed was expensive to buy in Bermuda.

    • Tommy Chong says:

      If you’ve never done anything illegal wether it be as minor as downloading or accepting pirated movies/songs, lying on your customs form, parking in a non parking or driving & talking on your cell at the same time then your point is fair enough. Now, if you ever done any of those things or any others similar & are one to complain about being charged if caught then you are a hypocrite & should take a step back before judging. Not making any accusations just saying if.

    • wondering says:

      what cruise line were you going on? And, were the drug sniffing dogs sniffing passengers getting on the ship, or their luggage? And if someone did have something illegal on them while in line to board, would they have time to leave the line and go to a restroom to dispose of the illegal substance?

  10. Dit says:

    i think the fine is too petty these visitors are told what accepted and not, why would you even travel with weed. Do they think all small countries are jamaica. CHOOPS

    • Tommy Chong says:

      Of course they shouldn’t think all small countries are jamaica but at the same time it wouldn’t be a good thing for tourist to think Bermuda’s like Mexico where weed is readily available but if your a tourist & get by the law with it they can pull any fine amount they wish out of a hat & threaten you with either paying it or spending time with the less desirable locals. In most developed countries this is called extortion & there are laws against it.

      • Come Correct says:

        There’s a gang in Bermuda that operates like that too…hmmmmm?

    • Come Correct says:

      Maybe its because something like 50% of the population of the planet Earth uses marijuana…and I’m being generous including countries like Thailand where its 30years in prison for ANY drug…and just like here some of them use too. People probably still use or travel with marijuana because we as humans like to enjoy something called freedom of choice, being told marijuana is illegal for absolutley no good reason but greed denies us of that freedom. I suggest if you don’t want people to travel with their own marijuana the airplanes should sell dime bags, kinda like those little bottles of poison they carry onboard. All this ridiculousnessness over a plant, well looks like I’ll have to do the world a favour next year and intercept that shipment of Bermuda easter lillys to the queen just in case she plans on smoking them.

      Wayne here’s a little FYI. The bloggers on here are now pointing out the stupidity of our laws, not damaging our islands reputation. You my friend, and all of your friends are the ones damaging this island. I guarentee you any other honeymooning couple will pick Jamaica over us for these reasons… You can go and enjoy a part of Jamaica locked in a gated resort away from people that will rob and potentially kill you, their dollar is 100 to one of ours (meaning you spend like $100 a week to ball out), oh right and for $20 you can get a 30 gallon trash bag full of marijuana, not only that but you could pay a little Jamaican boy $25 to get you this trashbag of marijuana, get horribly lost in the jungle and somehow the little Jamaican boy will still find you! Can you beat that service with a smile?… Thought not. The truth sucks doesn’t it? Go write us a song about it…

  11. Verbal Kint says:

    This guy gets an $800 fine for 6 grams of pot (about 2 or three teaspoons) and a guy who evaded police on a stolen motorcycle got a $500 fine. He even admitted knowing the bike was stolen. I do not understand what passes for justice in Bermuda.

    • My two cents says:

      What about the guy that got caught for THIRD time driving on suspended license? He got an $800 fine too. What about the DRUNK taxi driver that got $800 fine for wrecking his taxi into a parked trailer? Silly justice we have hear. And why don’t these people know the law? Intent to supply is over 20 grams. I don’t get how you don’t know that!

    • Rick Rock says:

      What about the Bermudian who two weeks ago got a Conditional Discharge for possession of marijuana?

  12. Hannah says:

    It simply does not make sense that things like this are happening. Our laws need to change. Stop harassing our much-needed tourists for having a little natural plant material for their own personal use, in their own personal private space!

  13. Will says:

    please tell me this isn’t the ship that didn’t even make it to berth because that would be wholly embarassing for Bermuda.

  14. Yada Yada Yada says:

    The problem I have is they are still searching cabins without the passengers being present…and for such a small amount. COME ON MAN!!!

    • Come Correct says:

      I believe most of the time in the US if you are honest about possession with the officers they will let you off with a warning, I belive they were doing that here aswell. They aremt even giving the tourists the opportunity to be truthfull, they would rather just extort the money out of them. Sorry but if you ruined my honeymoon for 6 grams of natural plant material, I’d drag your countrys name through the dirt wherever I went. 10 tourists burnt for small amounts of marijuana, tell 10 people about their horrible experience and sarcastic remarks from the magistrate, that adds 100 more tourists to Jamaicas arrival figures. Its ok though, we’re upholding justice and peace.

  15. Razor says:

    Another huge boost to tourism! Im sure this couple will be back and they will tell all of their friends!

  16. street wise says:

    Still shooting ourselves in the foot, I see. Will we ever learn…?

  17. street wise says:

    Do you really think that just one passenger on that huge ship – carrying maybe 3,500 people – was the only one to have weed in his/their cabin? I would estimate that there were at least 50 to 100 other folks on board who would prefer to smoke a harmless joint rather than drink the man-made alcoholic hang-over poison.

    The Customs people and their dog seem to stop searching once they have busted one passenger. What about the rest of them? I just don’t understand the policy behind such a stupid bust. It is so counter productive to our tourism revival that it amounts to harassment, IMO.