A visitor to Cayman who told Customs officers that the ganja in his luggage was for medicinal purposes was ordered to pay $1,000 after entering guilty pleas in Summary Court on Monday.

Gaspar Avila, 32, admitted to possession of five grams of the illegal substance and possession of a grinder – a utensil used in the preparation of a controlled drug.

Crown counsel Darlene Oko told Magistrate Valdis Foldats that the offenses occurred on Saturday, June 2, when the defendant arrived at Owen Roberts International Airport aboard a flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

As he approached the customs bench, officers smelled a strong scent of ganja. They searched his luggage and found ganja, rolling papers and a grinder with residue in it.

Mr. Avila told the officers he had purchased the drug in Miami as medical marijuana for chronic back pain. When interviewed, he said he had been recently approved for medical marijuana and his paperwork was still pending.

The magistrate advised Mr. Avila that he had done a quick search of Florida law before coming into court. “What you had was smokable, not for medicinal purposes,” he told the defendant.

For medicinal purposes, the law in Florida limits the use of marijuana to such forms as oils, sprays, tinctures and edibles.

“The truth is, you were breaking the law in Florida and you broke the law here,” he told the defendant. “How can you break the law in our country and not realize it’s disrespectful to us?”

Mr. Avila said he was sorry and ashamed. “I spend time in California and Colorado, so I guess I’ve gotten a little too brave and I stepped out of bounds,” he admitted.

The magistrate imposed a $500 fine for possession of ganja, $300 for possession of the grinder and ordered costs of $200 to cover the required tests. Mr. Avila said he would try to catch a flight Tuesday evening, after paying the fines.

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