A visitor with grandchildren and great-grandchildren appeared in Summary Court on Monday morning and pleaded guilty to possession of ganja.
Vivian Joanne Ivory, 69, was found with the ganja at Owen Roberts International Airport on Sunday, Feb. 19, when she was passing through the departure checkpoint on her way back to Ohio, USA.
Crown counsel Claire Wetton told Magistrate Valdis Foldats that Ivory was selected for a bag search by Flowers Air Dispatch Services. An officer checking Ivory’s baggage found a medicine bottle in a toiletry bag, and the contents seemed unusual.
The officer asked what it was; she said it was medicine and told him to throw it way. This aroused his suspicions and he opened it to discover vegetable matter resembling ganja and a small piece of spliff. He brought the matter to the attention of his supervisor, who notified Customs.
The exact quantity was not available, but the court accepted it as “a small amount.”
In her interview, Ivory told officers that she had not purchased the ganja, but had “obtained” it from a local person on the beach near her hotel. She said she was a “recreational user,” as ganja is legal in the U.S.
Asked by the magistrate about her background, Ivory said she is retired. He asked about her family and was told she has 19 grandchildren ranging in age from 18 to 33, and nine great-grandchildren.
The magistrate pointed out that although some U.S. states have legalized ganja, it is not legal in all states. In Ohio, possessing a small amount of ganja is a misdemeanor, he told her. Possession of a larger amount can be a felony.
“What you did was, quite frankly, a deliberate and selfish act. It’s not legal here. You’re assisting the drug industry. Anyone who purchases or shares drugs is promoting an illegal enterprise,” he said.
The magistrate suggested that Ivory would not want her grandchildren or great-grandchildren to do what she had done, and probably did not want them smoking at all.
“There has to be a conviction here because it was a deliberate act,” he said. The magistrate explained that in recent cases he had not imposed a conviction because one was a cruise ship passenger who did not bring the drug ashore, while the other had the drug for medicinal purposes.
“You didn’t have to do this,” he told the defendant. “We have to send a message to visitors – that you can’t break our laws.”
He said the fine would ordinarily be $600, but with credit for her guilty plea, he made it $400 or 40 days’ custody in default of payment.
Ivory told the court she lives on Social Security and has very limited income. There had been a fee for changing her plane ticket, and a hotel room Sunday night had cost another $150. “I just don’t have it,” she said, referring to money to pay the fine.
The magistrate asked if she could call her children or grandchildren. He requested a Customs officer to assist Ivory, who had hoped to catch a 1:40 p.m. flight. A check with the Criminal Registry at 1 p.m. confirmed that the fine had been paid.