A tourist on his first trip to Cayman spent part of his vacation in Summary Court, where he pleaded guilty on Monday to importing ganja.

Defense attorney Dennis Brady asked Magistrate Grace Donalds not to record a conviction in this case. Although the defendant had been here only a short time, the beauty of the island had so impressed him that he would like to come back, Mr. Brady explained.

He also asked for a lenient fine so that his client’s limited funds could last for the duration of his stay.

“He was hoping for the trip to be memorable,” Mr. Brady said.

The attorney emphasized that the quantity of ganja was small and had been brought to Cayman by accident, in that it had inadvertently been left in the backpack the defendant traveled with.

Crown counsel Emma Hutchinson did not have a certificate of analysis for the illegal drug, but she did hand up a photo to show the quantity.

She said the offense occurred on Saturday, July 21, at Owen Roberts International Airport, where the defendant had arrived on a United Airlines flight from Washington D.C. Customs officers attending noticed a strong smell of ganja when he approached and they therefore checked his luggage. A transparent bag containing vegetable matter was found in his backpack.

The defendant told officers he had the ganja for medicinal use, but was not carrying his medical card. He further explained that he worked at a medicinal marijuana laboratory which was a licensed facility, and he was a registered dispenser.

He had obtained his own marijuana at a different facility and used it for back and knee pain, Mr. Brady said.

“He came for sea, sand and sun,” the attorney summarized, and not to take up the time of customs officers or the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The magistrate invoked a section of the law that provides for no conviction to be recorded, but ordered the defendant to pay $500 to cover the costs of prosecution.

There was no separate penalty for possession of the ganja, which was ordered to be forfeited to the Crown for destruction.

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