In an unexpected turn of events, fashion model and TV personality Gigi Hadid found herself in legal trouble during her Caribbean vacation. Hadid, along with her friend Leah Nicole McCarthy, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to bring marijuana into the Cayman Islands.
Following their release, the duo decided to celebrate by sharing glamorous photos and videos on Instagram, showing off their beachside resort escapades with swimsuit-clad friends. Hadid’s caption, “All’s well that ends well,” seemingly brushed off the recent arrest without directly addressing the incident.
Fortunately for Hadid, things turned out better than they could have. After a brief stint in jail, she and McCarthy appeared in court and admitted to illegally importing marijuana and related paraphernalia. However, after paying a $1,200 fine, they were able to walk away. It’s important to note that the same charges could have led to much harsher consequences, including a three-year prison sentence with hard labor or, for some, up to seven years in prison and a $20,000 fine, as per Cayman Islands law. Additionally, having a drug charge on one’s record can severely impact education, employment, and travel opportunities for typical Caymanians.
Gigi Hadid and McCarthy flew from the United States to the Cayman Islands on a private jet on July 10, as confirmed by the islands’ Customs & Border Control, which later disclosed their arrest. After searching their luggage, authorities discovered a small amount of marijuana and a “drug utensil,” leading to their arrest.
Both the 28-year-old supermodel, whose real name is Jelena Noura Hadid, and McCarthy faced charges of marijuana importation and importation of utensils used for consuming the drug. Thankfully, after paying bail, they were released from jail. Two days later, they appeared in court and pleaded guilty to the charges. Subsequently, they paid their fines, resulting in a clean record.
Hadid’s representative told E! News that the model had legally purchased the marijuana in New York City with a medical license. However, transporting the drug into the Cayman Islands, where medicinal use is legal, is still against the law.
The Cayman Islands, known for being a tax haven for U.S. companies and the wealthy, has been making efforts to decriminalize marijuana in recent years. In 2021, a group of Caymanians started collecting signatures for a voter-led referendum to decriminalize the drug, aiming to allow those convicted of minor marijuana-related offenses to have their records expunged. In 2022, the islands’ Parliament also voted to hold a referendum to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
Orrie Merren IV, a civil attorney involved in the referendum drafting, expressed that one of the main motivations behind this initiative was to address the disproportionate impact of such laws on young adults, especially those from lower-income communities. He emphasized that having a criminal charge for marijuana possession could severely hinder future employment prospects and educational opportunities for Caymanian youths.
In 2022, 154 people faced drug-related arrests in the Caribbean nation, which has around 80,000 residents. Statistics from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service indicated that most marijuana-related arrests were for possession, and only three arrests were made on suspicion of importing the drug, the charge Hadid and her friend faced.
Hadid’s case is not an isolated incident. Other celebrities, like WNBA star Brittney Griner, have also encountered stricter marijuana laws while traveling internationally. Griner’s arrest in February 2022 at a Moscow airport, where vape cartridges were found in her luggage, led to a drug possession conviction and a nine-year prison sentence in Russia. Griner, a queer Black woman, endured harsh treatment in a notorious Russian prison before her release in a prisoner swap late last year.
In conclusion, Gigi Hadid’s recent arrest in the Cayman Islands has brought attention to the ongoing discussions surrounding marijuana decriminalization and its potential impact on individuals and communities. As more places consider reforming drug laws, the focus remains on addressing social inequalities and ensuring fair treatment for all.
Source : LA Time
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