Celebrity Summit *File photo
Celebrity Summit *File photo

 

An American father-of-two was today fined $3,000 for bringing $100 worth of medical marijuana into Bermuda.

Kemper Hardy, 24, bought cannabis at a dispensary in Oakland, California for $100.

He was aboard the Celebrity Summit on August 15 when customs officers smelled cannabis coming from his cabin at 11:20am.

Officers approached Hardy who said he was carrying marijuana and showed them where it was in his luggage.

Hardy told the officers he had a medical marijuana card from California.

Officers searched the cabin and asked if there was any more.

The defendant told them he had more in another bag. Officers seized two plastic bags with plant-like material inside.

When police arrived, Hardy was arrested and admitted possession of the drugs.

He said he bought them at a dispensary in California and apologised.

The amount was 28 grams and would be sold for $1,400 in Bermuda. Anything over 20 grams in Bermuda is considered possession with intent to supply.

Addressing the court, Hardy said he suffers from lower back pain as a result of being a baseball pitcher throughout high school and college.

He said he had torn ligaments and his doctor, Dr Michal Kaplan, in Oakland prescribed him marijuana to treat the pain.

‘The card was issued to me for the pain. That’s the reason I had the cannabis on board.

“The card allows me to buy up to eight ounces of marijuana and carry it.

“I bought it in California.”

Hardy denied the drugs were for supply.

“I was not aware that I was carrying too much because it was legal for me.

“I apologise for breaking any laws and for this incident. I apologise for coming here in front of you today.”

He continued: “I’m not a troubled kid and I don’t want to be in any trouble.”

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner questioned Hardy’s story and put it him that he would not carry the drugs in a state where it was illegal to have marijuana because there would be consequences.

Hardy agreed.

Mr Warner also questioned the authenticity of the medical marijuana card.

“Why do you think it would be valid in Bermuda?

“You intentionally brought the drugs to Bermuda and you would have known that possession of drugs in Bermuda was illegal.”

Hardy told the Magistrate he didn’t research the drug laws before boarding the ship.

He also said he wasn't smoking on the streets of Bermuda, he was only smoking on board the ship.

Continuing his mitigation, Hardy told the court he has a degree in computer technology from Jackson State University in Mississippi and works as a computer technologist in Oakland.

He also said he has two kids and volunteers as an umpire for youth baseball games.

‘This is my first incident with the law, my first time ever being arrested and my first time ever sitting in a jail.

“I ask that there be a little bit of leniency with the penalty.”

Mr Warner said he didn’t believe Hardy didn’t know the cannabis wasn’t illegal in Bermuda and didn’t know his medical marijuana card wouldn’t be valid.

“I can see no difference between him and a Bermudian saying ‘I’m afflicted by some pain and I know it’s against the law and I took my chance and possessed marijuana for personal use’.

Mr Warner sentenced Hardy to 30 days imprisonment from today, citing the sentence must be a “deterrent” for anyone else considering bringing drugs into Bermuda.

But Hardy then begged for a suspended sentence or a fine and said he would lose his job if he was jailed.

Hardy’s fiancee also begged for him not to be jailed.

After listening to them, Mr Warner said in order for him to suspend a prison term, there must be “exceptional circumstances”.

He also said he accepted that Hardy had the drugs because of his back pains.

Mr Warner suspended the 30 days and imposed a $3,000 fine. Hardy had to pay the fine before he left the court building.

The maximum penalty for possession of cannabis with intent to supply is prison for ten years or a fine three times the value of the drugs.