A Winnipeg woman has been spared a criminal record for smuggling Xanax across the Canadian border to feed her husband’s addiction.
Melissa Brandt pleaded guilty on Wednesday to importing and exporting the powerful tranquilizer, which is often used to treat panic and anxiety disorders. She was then given a conditional discharge which allows her to main a clean criminal record after a judge cited the "unusual nature" of the case.
The Crown had been seeking a fine.
Brandt is currently living with multiple sclerosis and has seen her health deteriorate in recent months. Her marriage has also ended, due largely to the conflict that arose following her February 2011 arrest at the Emerson border crossing, court was told.
Defence lawyer Tony Kavanagh said his client was put into a difficult position by her alcoholic and prescription-pill addicted husband, who demanded she drive to a postal box in Pembina, North Dakota to pick up the Xanax. The man had been frequently ordering pills online from India because they were much cheaper than what he was paying for his prescription in Canada.
Brandt did as he asked on this one occasion, only to get busted at the border with 243 pills hidden under her seat. Border officials became suspicious when they asked Brandt about the nature of her quick trip to the U.S. and she claimed to have gone looking to purchase "Cherry Coke" for her husband’s birthday.
"She felt bullied into it," Kavanagh said of Brandt’s illegal road trip. "She’s otherwise a fine upstanding citizen.’
Brandt apologized for her actions Wednesday, saying she made a "dumb" decision she deeply regrets.
"I don’t support anyone who does this so I’m sorry," she said. "It won’t happen again."
Brandt must complete 50 hours of community service as part of her discharge conditions.