Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Xanax smuggler spared a criminal record

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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 Wednesday to importing and exporting the powerful tranquillizer, often used to treat panic and anxiety disorders.

She was given a conditional discharge, which allows her to maintain a clean criminal record, after a judge cited the "unusual nature" of the case. The Crown had been seeking a fine.

Brandt has multiple sclerosis and her health has deteriorated in recent months.

Her marriage has ended, largely due to the conflict that arose after her February 2011 arrest at the Emerson border crossing, court was told.

Defence lawyer Tony Kavanagh said his client was put in a difficult position by her alcoholic and prescription-pill-addicted husband, who demanded she drive to a postal box in Pembina, N.D., to pick up the Xanax. The man had been frequently ordering pills online from India because they were cheaper than his prescription in Canada.

Brandt did as he told her on this one occasion, only to get busted at the border with 243 pills hidden under her seat.

 

-- Mike McIntyre

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 1, 2013 B3

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