Bali-eave Your Weed At Home

If you travel around the United States, you will make your way through a somewhat mixed bag of cannabis laws ranging from staunch prohibition to full legalization. Along with the plethora of marijuana legislation in effect around the country, you will find an attached assortment of penalties for breaking the laws of the land.

Citations, fines, jail time, and prison time are a few of the more common punishments handed out for cannabis infractions in not only the US but also in many other countries around the globe depending on what the local laws are.

But even as the world continues to roll down a path of increasingly widespread cannabis legalization, there are some countries where being caught with marijuana can result in long prison sentences and even death by a firing squad.

The island of Bali, an Indonesian province, is a popular tourist destination. But if you are thinking about traveling there with cannabis or even finding and using some during your visit, you may want to reconsider.

The Indonesian drug laws divide substances into three groups, much like the scheduling system used by the federal government in the United States. And as in the US, cannabis is placed in Group 1.

Cannabis possession can get an offender a 4 to 12-year prison sentence while trafficking can yield even harsher penalties. Fines of up to US$1.2 million can be added alongside lifetime imprisonment judgments, and the death penalty can even be imposed for someone caught smuggling more than 1 kilo of raw cannabis or 5 grams of processed product.

Over the years, in addition to domestic victims of the land’s harsh drug punishments, foreigners have also found themselves facing the same penalties for cannabis violations.

On October 8, 2004, Australian citizen Schapelle Corby was flying from Brisbane to Bali via Sydney with her stepbrother, and two girlfriends to visit her sister who lives there with her Balinese husband. When the group arrived at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, they were stopped by customs officials who had apparently found a vacuum-sealed plastic bag containing 9.3 pounds of cannabis in her unlocked bodyboard bag.

Corby maintained that she was innocent, and her traveling companions attested that they had seen her pack the bag before going to the airport and that the woman’s bodyboard and flippers were the only items inside.

Despite her attorney’s best efforts, on May 27, 2005, 27-year-old Corby was convicted of importing cannabis into Indonesia and sentenced to 20 years in prison and given a fine of over $12,000. While serving her sentence, she suffered severe depression and bouts of psychosis while imprisoned and was hospitalized for it on multiple occasions.

After a series of appeals, one acknowledging Corby’s deteriorating mental health which requested full remission on humanitarian grounds was made to the Indonesian President. In May 2012, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono allowed five years to be removed from Corby’s sentence.

On February 7, 2014, Corby was granted parole and released three days later after spending nine years in Kerobokan Prison. After serving out the terms of her probation, she was deported on May 27, 2017.

In August, American citizen, Christian Beasley was arrested at a post office in Kuta when he tried to pick up a package containing 5.7 grams of hashish. Beasley is a California citizen and a medical cannabis patient.

Beasley was convicted and taken to the overcrowded Kerobokan Prison; a facility that was designed to house 300 prisoners, but as of 2017, around 1,500 male and female inmates are being held there.

Beasley was to stay at the prison until his sentencing date of December 12, but on a rainy December 11 night, Beasley disappeared along with another American, Paul Anthony Hoffman who was serving a 20-month sentence for robbery. The pair escaped by cutting through steel bars on the jail’s roof, descending one wall with a rope, and scaling another 20-foot wall using a ladder. Hoffman was quickly recaptured, but Beasley managed to evade authorities at first.

Beasley left the prison and went straight to where his mother was staying. He arrived there in the middle of the night while it was still raining and tried to get her to leave. He explained that other inmates had told him that friends and relatives could be threatened if they knew the whereabouts of the escapee.

Rosalind Beasley quickly packed and left for Thailand to wait for word from Christian before later returning home to California.

Beasley shaved his head, rented a motorbike and obtained camping equipment in order to better stay out of sight, five days after his escape from Kerobokan, authorities tracked him to the beach town of Senggigi on the island of Lombok where they arrested him in an alley. He had been attempting to make his way to meet his mother in Thailand but could not fly out of the country without any documents.

At a press conference on December 20th, wearing a prison jumpsuit, a black balaclava over his head, and chains around his ankles, Beasley said that in prison, “they threatened me for protection money. That’s why I left.”

Kerobokan chief warden Tonny Nainggolan denied Beasley’s claims, stating that “There is no such thing, he made it up. We protect and guarantee the safety of the inmates and detainees in Kerobokan.”

Authorities have not set a new date for Beasley’s trial, but as of yet, they have not returned him to the Kerobokan facility.

But Beasley’s story isn’t going unnoticed by the American government. After having seen the story on the Fox News program, “Special Report,” President Trump has reportedly requested more information on the situation; possibly an indication of the American government getting involved at some point.

Trump has indicated his support of state medical cannabis rights in the past and, for the second time this month, signed a stopgap bill that includes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. The amendment prohibits the Justice Department and the DEA from using funds to interfere in legal states.

In an unrelated incident on November 30, an American only named as KSL by Indonesian authorities was detained when he attempted to pick up a package containing 336.6 grams (12oz) of THC-infused e-liquid at a post office. Because of the amount that was being smuggled, the unnamed individual could face the death penalty upon conviction.

While Dr. Dre once talked about hitting the dope spot to get the chronic and be “smelling like Indonesia,” the reality of harsh punishments for cannabis infractions there doesn’t sound nearly as cool.

And as in the case of Schapelle Corby, even if you maintain your innocence, and even though the evidence is circumstantial, you still stand a good chance of ending up in prison on allegations alone.

Cannabis laws are becoming more open in a growing variety of places around the world, but in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia where the wages of marijuana sins are imprisonment and sometimes death, it may be wise to avoid visiting them if you are someone who needs medicinal cannabis on a daily basis.