Drug crimes are severely punished in the United Arab Emirates, as the country has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the recreational use of drugs. The UAE has now recently introduced Decree number 30 of 2021, promulgating the new drugs law in the United Arab Emirates, replacing the 'Federal law number 14 of 1994 on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The new decree revises the schedules listing the 'Narcotics substances' to refer to any substance whether natural or synthetic and as listed under schedules 1,2,and 3 attached to the decree (previously there were four schedules 1,2,3 and 4 listing narcotics substances) and the 'Psychotropic substances' to refer to any substance whether natural or synthetic and as listed under schedules 5,6,7 and 8 attached to the decree (ref: Article 1).
What is punishable:
The procurement, import, export, manufacture, extraction, separation, production, possession, acquisition and abuse of narcotic drugs listed in Schedules 1, 2, 4, 5, as well as all the other types of activities and acts in connection with such drugs shall be prohibited (ref: Article 10),unless when the use is for scientific or medical reasons as per guidelines of article 40.
Except in the cases authorized and under the conditions provided for in this Section, the procurement, import, export, manufacture, extraction, separation, production, possession, acquisition and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances indicated in Schedules 3,6,7,and 8, as well as all the other types of activities and acts in connection therewith, shall be prohibited (ref: article 11), unless, when the use is for scientific or medical reasons as per guidelines of article 40.
The punishment imposed for Possession of Drugs:
As we discussed earlier in this article, the UAE imposes a strict no-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs. This means that even if you are in possession of 0.01 gm of drugs, it will still be a crime. Added to that are the issues related to residual amounts left in the bloodstream, which in the case of drugs can be even up to a month's time, depending on the level of usage. It should be kept in mind that there is zero percent tolerance for any drugs, controlled or recreational, including herbal or natural products such as opium seeds, poppy seeds, betel leaves etc.
Pursuant to Article 41 of the New Decree the minimum penalty that may be imposed on anyone who has abused in any way whatsoever or personally used (including possession), any substances mentioned under schedule 1,2,5 except clause 29 from schedule 1 or any of the banned plants mentioned in Schedules 4, except clause 8 from part 2, schedule 4 a minimum penalty of three months' imprisonment or fine of not less than twenty thousand and not exceeding one hundred thousand may apply (ref: Article 34). Higher penalties will apply for the same offence, i.e. for instance, for a second-time repeat offence, the penalty is increased from imprisonment not less than six months or a fine not less than thirty thousand and not exceeding one hundred thousand. Similarly, for repeat offenders for the third time the penalty escalated to imprisonment not less than two years or a fine not less than one hundred thousand (Ref: Article 41).
Drug crimes in UAE are ever-increasing, with the latest statistics reflecting that every 1 out of 8 crimes in the UAE might be pertaining to drug abuse. The sensitivity of drug abuse cases and its potential in causing permanent damages to an individual and their families call for critical legal reforms which the new laws have delivered. Especially with the new provisions that allow for court's the discretion to exchange the punishment imposed on an offender and to replace the same with rehabilitation treatment in the specialized units established under the provisions is both a compassionate and effective measure.
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