Illegal Drugs in UAE: The Criminal Charges for Possession

Except for few countries, all others prohibit and restrict the possession, sale, manufacturing, and usage of narcotics and illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alike. Analyzing the statistics, UAE in 2018 has witnessed a ghastly increase in the usage and possession of drugs.

The legality and illegality of a drug generally depend upon its use as for what purposes the drug will be utilized. Narcotics drugs, if used for medicines can cure severe diseases, however, if taken without a prescription and for illegal use can make an individual an addict. For instance, marijuana can assist in curing cancer, amphetamines are used for treating attention-deficit disarray, and barbiturates are used for addressing anxiety issues. On the other hand, illegal and un-prescribed drugs pose an imminent threat to the individual or society. Thus, every country issues a legislature to restrict or prohibit the illicit use of narcotics and illegal drugs in the country. Accordingly, UAE Has promulgated laws regarding the usage of such drugs and criminal penalties for those who possess these drugs without a relevant prescription. Beware should be those, who travel in UAE with un-prescribed medicines and illicit drugs for personal use.

For the sole reason of preserving securing and a healthy society, the lawmakers of UAE have issued stricter punishment for those who traffic drugs than those who possess drugs for personal use. It is evident from the recent amendments in the Drugs law where the authority has established an Addiction Treatment Unit supervised by the Treatment Supervision Committee (the Committee) which will treat the individual as a patient and not as an addict which will assist him in his progress of rehabilitation and integration. The offender will only be given to the Committee if he presents himself directly either to the Public Prosecutor or the Committee itself.

According to the UAE Government, the foreign amendments are in the interest of society at large as drugs addicts are often socially outcasted and the process will help them retain their healthy life. Whereas, for regular offenders or drug traffickers, the law imposes harsh penalties to combat the widespread bane in society. The Criminal Lawyers of Dubai, through this article, will guide their readers to understand the criminal consequences of possessing illegal and narcotics drugs in the UAE. The article will further provide a detailed list of prohibited drugs in the country.

  • What are the laws regulating possession of Narcotics and illegal drugs in the UAE?

Federal Law Number 8 of 2016 concerning the Combatting of Narcotics Substances (the Drugs Law), governs the possession and usage of narcotics drugs. The law imposes penalties on that manufacture, sell, use, possess, and import-export prohibited drugs in the country. By Article 6 of the Drugs Law, the import, export, manufacture, production, possession, procurement, or abuse of a narcotic drug mentioned in the law is strictly prohibited. However, in several cases, the law allows the user to have possession of narcotics or psychotropic substances, depending upon the weight which should not exceed a prescribed limit followed by a prescription.

UAE has signed several treaties and conventions on narcotics and psychotropic substances and their usage. The foregoing conventions lay down control measures that ensure that the narcotics and psychotropic substances are not readily available to the layman. The conventions main objectives involve:

  1. Allowing narcotic and psychotropic substances only for medicinal and scientific purposes;
  2. Prevent the illegal use of such drugs;
  3. Eliminate drug trafficking.

The Drugs Law provides the application of such conventions, and Federal Law Number 4 of 1983 regarding Pharmaceutical Profession and Establishment highlights the basic requirements for the purchase and sale of prescribed medicines.

  • What criminal charges can be filed against an individual who is detained due to possession of narcotics drugs or was traveling with illegal drugs in the country?

By Article 6 of Drugs Law, the possession, manufacturing, or selling of narcotics drugs is strictly detained. Thus, anyone found with illegal drugs will be straightaway arrested either at the airport if traveling to UAE or elsewhere. The matter will be then transferred to the public prosecutor, who will then draft a report, post receiving the lab result on such drugs, to determine the criminal intention of the offender. In the meanwhile, the offender can seek bail either through financial and/or personal guarantees; however, considering the gravity of the offense, the court might not grant bail.

Once the report is drafted, the matter will then be referred to the criminal court for adequate punishment. The penalties prescribed in the Law depend on various factors which will be discussed below. The minimum sentence for such an offense is 4 (four) years along with a fine not less than AED 10,000 and deportation in some cases.

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