Two Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) passengers have been charged with drug offences after allegedly bringing nearly 72kg of marijuana on board.

More than 100 bags of leaves were found in the luggage of Michael Quesenberry and Savannah Rose Minami on the 168,000-gt Norwegian Joy (built 2017).

Drug-sniffing dogs made the find as the ship was preparing to leave the UK’s Southampton on 11 January, USA Today reported.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida, 56 bags of “a green, leafy substance” were discovered in Quesenberry’s bags.

The passenger said this was for personal use. He claimed he had a medical card for the drug in California.

The report said police officers initially found the two together in a passenger room.

Minami claimed not to know Quensenberry before meeting him in a bar on the vessel and was allowed to leave the room.

But a later search of her luggage found another 56 bags.

Tests confirmed the substance was marijuana.

An affidavit filed by a police officer said: “Based on my training and experience, the packaging and quantity of marijuana in the luggage belonging to each of Quesenberry and Minami is consistent with drug trafficking and distribution.”

“Further, based on my training and experience, drug traffickers are increasingly turning to exportation of marijuana from the United States to England, due to the higher price of marijuana in England,” the officer added.

Both passengers have been charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, as well as actual possession with intent to distribute.

Lawyers for the duo have yet to comment, as has the Miami-based shipowner.

US states have different laws on marijuana, but it is still illegal at federal level and not allowed on cruise vessels.