Cruise Ship Marijuana Arrests End Vacation For Two Passengers in Bermuda

Cannabis plants

Stephen Gotter, 51, from Massachusetts, and Susan Cochran, from New Jersey were aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Dawn on Saturday , June 10, 2017 when  the cruise ship docked  in Bermuda at the Royal Naval Dockyard.

Norwegian Dawn embarked from Boston, Massachusetts on Friday June 9, 2017 at 1600 hours. The cruise ship sailed to Bermuda and arrived in Bermuda Saturday morning.

A cabin stewardess aboard the cruise ship entered Gotter’s cabin to turn down the beds and discovered 37.1 grams of cannabinoids, 15.9 grams of cannabis and a pipe on a cabin table. She contacted ship security.

Gotter was arrested and later appeared in court.  Gotter told the judge, “I’m sorry. Where I come from, it’s legal. I use it medicinally. I had no intention of bringing it onto the island. It was just for in my cabin.”

Susan Cochburn, 44, was arrested after ship security conducted a search in her cabin and found a pair of glass pipes and two ziplock bags, one containing 2.18 grams of cannabis and the other having trace amounts of the drug.  Cochburn told the judge that she was terminally ill and used the cannabis for pain

Bermuda Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo fined Gotter $1,000 for each of the importation offences and $300 for possessing the pipe. He fined Cochburn $300 for the cannabis, and a further $150 for her possession for the pipes. Fines were to be paid before the two passengers were permitted to leave the island.

The Law – 29 States Legalized

Gotter is from Massachusetts, which legalized Medical Marijuana in 2012 with Ballot Question 3, which permits 60-day supply for personal medical use (10 oz)  of Medical Marijuana.

Cochran is from New Jersey , which legalized Medical Marijuana in 2010 with Senate Bill 119 (48-14 H; 25-13 S)  which permits possession of two ounces.

Federal Law

Cruise ships are governed by federal law, not the law of the state they embark from or make a call to. Under federal law, it is illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana, since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, claiming it has a high potential for abuse and has no acceptable medical use. Possession of any amount (first offense) is a misdemeanor punishable by one year in prison and $1000 fine.

In addition, other countries can have stiff penalties. For example, under the Cannabis Control Law in Japan, being caught with even a single joint can get you a five year prison sentence.

Getting caught in Dubai with even the tiniest trace of cannabis can get you a minimum mandatory sentence of four years.