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New Drug Law of UAE: Here’s everything you need to know

New Drug Law of UAE: Here’s everything you need to know

As the UAE is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the UAE government has introduced amendments in approximately 40 laws to overhaul the entire legal system. Among those amendments, the one which holds significant importance for all the expatriates is the amendment in the drug law of the country. Recently, the president of the UAE has pronounced the Federal Decree No. (30) of 2020 on combating narcotics and psychotropic substances. This law has amended the Federal Law no. (14) of 1994. In this article, we will explore what are the changes introduced by the said law along with their implications.

Relaxations for the first time offenders
This new law decriminalised the use of cannabis for the first time offenders. In simple words, if a traveller enters the country with THC (intoxicating chemical in cannabis) through food, drinks or other items, it shall not be punishable. However, it is pertinent to note that this relaxation is only for the first time violators, and if a person repeats the same, he shall be strictly punished.

Further, the jurisdiction of the court have been increased and they are competent to send any offender to the rehabilitation and treatment centers which are specially established for this purpose. The term of the rehabilitation shall not exceed one year. It is important to note that these centers are only for the first time offenders and they will spend their jail term thereon. Further, If the offender has been previously subject to some treatment in the rehabilitation unit, the said provisions will not apply to him.

The new law strictly provides that the rehabilitation centers shall maintain complete confidentiality about the details of the offenders. These centers will carry out the vocational training and social integration programme.

These centers, after receiving the opinion of public prosecutor, also have the discretion to release the offenders in 2 circumstances, which are as follows-

  1. If the supervisory committee in its report recommends that the person is fit to leave
  2. If the supervisory committee approves the request of the offender to leave the center.

These centers will be governed by the regulations framed by the cabinet. If the offender commits any offense during his rehabilitation at the center, the supervisory committee is competent to subject him to a jail term as specified for other offenders.

Strict punishment for repeated offenders
As per the new law, the repeated offenders are subject to a very harsh and strict penalty. The offenders are classified in 3 categories –

  1. First time offenders- They will be subject to the treatment in the rehabilitation centers.
  2. Repeated offenders – If the person repeats the same offense within 3 years, he will be subject to an imprisonment of 3 months and a fine not exceeding AED 100,000.
  3. Third Time offender – The person falling under this category will be subject to an imprisonment of 2 years and a minimum fine of AED 100,000.

Punishment for inciting and facilitating drug use
As per the new law, if a person indulges in promoting, inciting or facilitating drug use, he shall be subject to an imprisonment of 5 years in tandem with a fine of AED 50,000. The crime will be considered as an aggravated one if it is related to public gathering, place of worship or educational institution.

If the crime resulted in some sort of harm to the victim, the offender will be subject to a rigorous imprisonment of 7 years and a hefty fine amounting to AED 200,000. Further, the person who  set up places for drug consumption shall face a jail term between 7 to 10 years.

Deportation is optional
Before the amendment, the legal position was that a drug offender must be mandatorily deported to his/her home country. However, in this new law, it has become optional and the judges have given a very wide discretion to deport the expat or not.

As per Article 96 of the new law, if a person enters the country while carrying such a substance, he will be kept in a separate place and the substance will be destroyed by the authorities.

Medical Use
The new law made it mandatory for all physicians to submit a report before increasing the dose of any medicine containing narcotics or psychotropic substances. Further, this can only be done if the patient’s condition is really severe.

In short
This new law is a very comprehensive one encompassing all the necessary provisions regarding the relaxation of the drug menace. It can be seen as a progressive step to make the UAE an attractive destination for tourists.

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