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Home of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Ends Jail Time for Travelers with THC

Some of the harsh laws governing drugs in the United Arab Emirates have been relaxed. Tourists who bring THC-infused products into the UAE are now exempt from some penalties. Dubai’s new policy is to destroy and confiscate cannabis products, rather than imposing harsh penalties.

President of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced these new changes on November 27, People convicted for drug-related offenses may be sentenced to time in secure detention, which offers education and treatment instead of imprisonment. This is part of several major changes. Deportation of non-citizens involved in cases involving drug use or possession is not mandatory. 

The UAE has been a staunch opponent to drug possession. Carrying residual amounts of any drug—including cannabis—could land you years in prison. For drug crimes, the minimum sentence was four years in prison. This is a change from five years ago. Chronic News routinely called it one of the worst countries with some of the “strictest weed laws.”

The nation also updated outdated laws. In the following was the outline of new legislation Official Gazette. The most recent issue of Official GazetteDownload the PDF here. First-time offenders will receive minimum sentences of three months as part of a new approach that hopes to integrate “drug users” back into society, but also imposing harsher punishments for serial offenders.

The Official GazetteThe Government of Dubai issues a monthly publication through the Supreme Legislation Committee. According to the government’s website, it contains all legislation issued by the Government of Dubai​​ including laws, decrees, resolutions, regulations, bylaws, instructions and orders.

It will be illegal to carry cannabis-infused food and drinks. These items will be taken into custody and destroyed. In 2016 the UAE reduced marijuana’s minimum sentence from four to two years.

National NewsThe UAE News Agency reported that new legislation would be in effect from January 2nd. “The legislator gave the court freedom to decide the penalty between either imprisonment or fine in the first and second instances but in the third instance, a penalty of combined prison and fine is mandatory,” Dr. Hasan Elhais, of Al Rowaad Advocates, told National News.

“We can clearly see a recognition of the need for a co-ordinated approach that considers criminal justice and public health in regards to using drugs,” Dr. Elhais said. “While justice is at the heart of the new law, we can also see how the issue of using drugs is being looked at as an illness rather than a crime.”

Americans living in Dubai 

Americans tend to run into a bit of culture clash in UAE: for instance, it’s illegal to say “fuck” in public or take photos of people without their permission. This is also true for the severity of cannabis-related punishments.

American Peter Clark was placed in court last April after he tested positive for cannabinoids. He had consumed the drug in the United States. The website “Detained in Dubai”, a group founded by Radha Stirling, claims to “have helped thousands of victims of injustice over the past 10 years.”

They were there Chronic NewsClark was the subject of the Clark case. Clark learned that Dubai is not a friendly place when it comes cannabis. Unfortunately, it was not before the current law.

“I was absolutely stunned to learn that I was being charged due to residual marijuana in my system. I smoked it legally back in America long before I even got on the plane,” he told the Daily Mail. “I knew about Dubai’s strict drug laws but never for one moment did I think something I legally did in my own country would lead to my arrest.”

With the nation’s new laws on drugs, it’s clear the times have changed.