This spring I wrote a couple of articles about cruise passengers getting busted in Nassau for small amounts of pot.  

In April, I wrote about seven passengers from various cruise ships who were arrested for possessing one or a few marijuana cigarettes. In several cases of those arrested, the Bahamian customs officer boarded the Miami-based ships without an arrest warrant or probable cause and confiscated the pot in the cabin safes and arrested the passengers when they returned to the ships.

I commented on the double standard where cruise lines like Royal Caribbean or NCL make hundreds of millions of dollars pushing booze on their ships to the point that the passenger are knee-walking-Nassau Bahamas Potdrunk, but the cruise ship security officers will nab a guest for a single joint and turn them over to the police.    

A common complaint we hear from those who get off the ships in Nassau is that pot dealers canvas the port and sell pot up and down Bay Street and in and around every bar in town. And of course Nassau has a major crime problem which the local police can’t control.

Nonetheless, the Bahamas devotes considerable resources into making tourist-related pot arrests, even though the majority of those arrested don’t even try and leave the ship with the pot.   

You can read my articles here: 

Reefer Madness: Bahamas Magistrate Taunts & Shakes Down Royal Caribbean Potheads

"Dangerous Drugs?" Nassau Nabs Two More U.S. Cruise Passengers for Pot

Well yesterday the issue resurfaced.  The Tribune newspaper reports that the Bahamian police arrested four young men in their early 20’s from several cruise ship for small amounts pot.

The first two men arrested were from Georgia and disembarked an unidentified cruise ship. They had possession of one gram between them when the police arrested them on the cruise wharf.  The magistrate told them that they "could have faced up to seven years in Her Majesty’s Prison." He questioned whether they knew that marijuana was illegal in the Bahamas. One of the men told the magistrate “it’s everywhere.” He fined each passenger $300 to be paid by 5:00 P.M. or they could spend a month in prison.

The second arrest involved a passenger from Miami. The customs officers came on board the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas and arrested the passenger for possessing three grams. He told the magistrate that he "wasn’t planning on bringing it off the ship.”  The magistrate threatened the passenger with "sitting in a prison cell for seven years," and fined him $400 or two months in jail. 

The third and last arrest involved another young man from Miami who was aboard the Norwegian Sky. The NCL security chief invited the Bahamian police onto the ship and led them to the passenger’s cabin. The police discovered 12 joints and arrested the passenger.  The magistrate fined him $500 or 2 months in prison.

The comments to the article mocked the magistrate. My favorite was "7 years for a dime bag? GTFOH." The last comment said: " . . . stop wasting the tax payers money with this crap, I hope the fine is more than your $800 per hour charge Magistrate Forbes." 

Nassau has a major problem with gangs, drugs and armed robbery involving young violent men. But the local magistrates and police officers would rather round up stoned American cruisers with a joint or two back in the cruise ship safe. It’s easy pickings for the local law enforcement and judicial departments who have otherwise lost control of Nassau. 


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  • As the great Baretta said, Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

  • Schmedlapp

    You’re missing the point entirely, Craig. The Bahamian “authorities” aren’t even being subtle about what their priorities really are, which place shaking down tourists for extra revenue ahead of public safety. I won’t get into whether pot should be illegal or not, but ask yourself why they do this while crime in Nassau is out of control? Which is more harmful to society, a guy smoking a joint or systematic violence and robbery?

  • R.R.

    The Bahamas is on the verge of a civil war. The Bahamian people are finally waking up to the fact that their government has been stealing from them since their independence 41 years ago. The people are even targeting government officials and BEC employees now in their robberies and murders. The BEC (Bahamas Electric Company) leader has notified the people that by the end of this month if a $55 million dollar bill is not paid for foreign oil , the whole country will be without power. Can you image a country in a black out with 99% of the population armed and angry? The U.S. government has been recording Bahamian government officials for years and finally the government has admitted they have no control of what’s happening. Canada has just issued a travel warning against the Bahamas, and anyone who is just visiting here is advised to leave.

  • Renee L.

    We visited the Bahamas 5 years ago and it was real bad already, I can’t even image what it’s like now, so sad.

  • cj

    As an expat who lives here in Nassau, I’m privy to a fair amount of insider news from the embassy as well as Bahamian govt employees. One friend who previously worked at the US Embassy, told me that her only job was processing US Citizens (mostly middle aged women) through the system to 1) pay their 500 fine, and 2) get them back onto their ships or back to the states after they had been caught carrying and or purchased some pitiful small amount of marijuana etc….and that the Bahamian government saw this as a “sweet spot” for getting revenues into the country with little effort. Entrapment being legal here is the cautionary phrase i tell people visiting us. And yes, you can’t walk down by the docks WITHOUT getting harassed by guys selling weed….but you’ll never see the bahamian cops busting them….cause it would affect revenues streams to the country… be warned travelers!

  • Paul

    Read it to believe it, because if you think your safe on any Bahamian island, your DEAD wrong! This country is corrupted to the core, and anyone thinking they can do or go anywhere they want without someone controlling their actions, will be DEAD wrong! ( Remember, the Bahamas is the rape capitol of the World. So called “Paradise”.

  • Gene

    I’ve now read a couple of Mr. Walkers articles about this supposed scam. I have things I’d like to point out.
    1) I’ve been living and working in Nassau for 25 years, 16 of them dealing with cruise ship passengers……I’ve never actually ever heard about this apparent ” scam” that is being implemented by the Bahamian authorities. Occasionally a passenger or passengers will get busted for some drug offence….happens all over the US all the time. As a matter of fact I believe the USA has the largest number of people in the world imprisoned for non-violent marijuana offences…..
    2) i noticed that it was mentioned a number of times that ” cruise line security officers invited Bahamian police onto the ships….” Yet you Mr Walker really don’t seem to find that behaviour a problem nor do you take issue with it…..a bit of a double-standard it would seem.

  • Gene:

    In the U.S. a first time offender with a small amount of pot can enter a drug program and upon completion the arrest will be expunged from the record. Or he can plead no contest and pay a small fine of $150 and court costs. Or he can hire a lawyer or have a public defender involved. The chances are good that he can win at trial on facts like these. In the Bahamas, the system is fixed. No U.S. citizen can prevail at trial there. Draconian threats of months in jail result in thousands of dollars of extorted money. Meanwhile the armed robbers run wild.

    Of course I have criticized the conduct of the shipboard security officers inviting the Bahamanian police aboard. The ship security could care less if the passengers are blasted out of their mind on cruise booze. That’s because the cruise lines make millions of dollars selling alcohol, even though there is a direct correlation between excessive alcohol and violence and sexual assault.

  • Gene

    Mr. Walker,
    Not to belabour the point but we both know that many folks in the US have been locked up for days,weeks,months and even years for tiny amounts of marijuana, sometimes even just a few grams or a joint or two. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that some of the drug laws vis-a-vis marijuana in the Bahamas are overly severe but so are some of the very same types of laws in the US. Quite frankly the US has, historically been the biggest stumbling block to rationale marijuana laws around the world.

    On the other hand you have been ranting about the crime- rate and murder rate increasing in Nassau and the Bahamas and yet in these particular threads you are complaining about the demand aspect of the drug trade, which happens to be one of the driving forces of the increase in crime, and how it is being handled by the authorities.
    It is a long-known and well-established rule of travel to familiarize oneself about the culture and laws of the destinations to which one travels……it is not rocket science that if you travel to the Bahamas, Jamaica or any other tourist destination in the Caribbean including Mexico that if you are caught with weed or any other dope there will be consequences… is easily researched and no excuse for not knowing.

  • Gene:

    You’re belaboring yourself and not making much of a point.

    The U.S. is in the process of legalizing marijuana. Several states have actually done so. Florida will soon follow.

    The Bahamas is heading in the other direction. It focuses it’s tiny resources on collaring tourists in flip-flops with a joint. Why? Because they have the U.S. dollars to pay the exorbitant fines under threats of prison time. Meanwhile, the local drug dealers, gang members and armed robbers remain untouched.