Some people often consider drugs as an escape from reality. Drugs have taken complete control of so many people and have taken so many lives as well. The government has tried to curb this problem for decades. According to a recent statistic in 2018, the UAE has witnessed a sudden increase in the usage and possession of drugs. The government of the UAE has zero-tolerance on the usage of recreational drugs. Federal Law No.14 of 1995 criminalizes production, import, export, buying, selling, possessing, spring of narcotic and psychotropic substances unless done so as part of supervised and regulated medical or scientific activities in accordance with the applicable laws.
However, a recent amendment on the use of illegal drugs has considerably reduced the severity of the punishment. The first amendment laid out that the minimum four-year jail sentence has been reduced to two years. It also proposed that the Attorney General will possess the power to send the offender to rehabilitation treatment without the case going to the court after consulting the police and the prosecutors.
Options for first-time offenders include going to the rehabilitation center or community service and can receive a maximum fine of AED 10,000. For a serial offender, the court can charge a minimum fine of AED 10,000 with sentencing.
In case a family member hands over an offender to the police, a prosecutor, or a rehabilitation center; he may be exempted from any penalty. The UAE encourages people to help individuals struggling with drug abuse and asks family members to come forward in such cases. The drug abuser will continue treatment unless the rehabilitation center releases him/her. Before the amendment, the exemption was only considered if the drug user came forward before the law. The duration has also been reduced from three years to two years under the new amendment.
The UAE Government has chosen to see drug abuse as a healthcare issue that can be dealt with proper treatment and rehabilitation. The UAE is a leading example for other countries and has successfully made all the necessary changes in the legislation to improve the legal system and justice.
The Police have dedicated departments to deal with drug abuse issues. The Dubai Police have been actively trying to communicate and raise awareness about this new amendment to remove the fear of criminal charges and criminal proceedings among offenders. They have been holding nationwide campaigns like International Day against Drugs and Illicit Trafficking.
The following amendments have been created as an alternative solution for first-time offenders. The main amendments were done in Articles 43, 44, 45, 59,61,63,65 which are mentioned below:
Article (43) of Federal Law No.14 of 1994 says that criminal proceedings shall not be implemented against those who pass the treatment program.
Any Publications promoting the usage of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances shall be punished with a fine no less than AED 50,000 together with all the publications being confiscated.
Any person trying to intoxicate another with narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances through food or drink or who makes them abuse the substance unaware shall be punished with imprisonment up to or no less than five years.
In the case of direct intent, the person shall be imprisoned for no less than 7 years. Further, if the offender commits any crime after the victim is intoxicated, the offender will be imprisoned for life. In case of the death of the victim, the offender will receive the death penalty as punishment for his crimes.
Any convicted person for the use or abuse of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, to whom Article 43 applies, shall be subject to periodic examinations during the execution of the penalty or during the period of placement. The Minister of Interior shall determine the procedure of this inspection. Violations of these rules and regulations will result in imprisonment for not less than a year. If the offender refuses to give the necessary examination sample shall be further punished for two years imprisonment and a fine no less than AED 10,000.
The amendment also gives absolute power to the police to resort to the use of weapons or force to implement the provisions of the law as they deem fit, provided that it is necessary and proportionate to the purpose of use.
In the case of first offenders, the offenses outlined in Article 39, 40, and 41 of this Law shall not be considered as a precedent for rehabilitating them.
The Federal courts located at the headquarters of the Federation’s Capital shall be competent to decide on the crimes punishable by Articles 48 and 49 of this Law whenever they are committed for trafficking, in addition to crimes associated with them.
UAE Officials also announced that anyone entering the country will need a pre-approval certificate to bring personal medicines with them. Hence travelers are advised to carry a valid medical prescription and the approval sanctioned by the Ministry of Health and Prevention of the UAE before entering the country. Carrying of herbal medicines is also banned in the UAE even if it’s usage is permitted in the country of departure.
Narcotics can only be used in the following cases as laid down by the UAE Government:
Controlled Medicines are usually prescribed to patients of acute and chronic illnesses. They are mostly administered to inpatients. These are CDa (Controlled Drug -a) type and is used in accordance with the law with strict vigilance. However, CDb (Controlled Drug -b) is semi-controlled and is available in community pharmacies and hospitals in the UAE. Federal Law No.4 of 1983 describes the basic requirements for prescribing and supplying prescription medicines.
A narcotic can only be prescribed by a physician licensed by HAAD on an inpatient and must be written on the approved Narcotic prescription form.
Prescriptions for out-patients from a private sector are usually not allowed. However, exceptions may be taken into consideration provided the request comes from a medical director.
Psychotropic Prescriptions can only be given to out-patients by a licensed physician from HAAD and has to be prescribed on the official psychotropic prescription form. These drugs have special requirements known as CDa, previously known as “Registered Prescriptions” or “Group 4” drugs. There are UAE Federal restrictions on the duration of prescription supply for CDa and CDb drugs and these also depend upon the status of the prescribing physician.
The UAE Government aims to strengthen the prevention and treatment of drug abuse and hence have taken necessary measures in prohibiting the use of drugs and restricting the use of controlled medicines. (Controlled medicines are substances that can lead to addiction and have the potential to be abused by individuals).
In accordance with Federal Law No.4 of 1983, there are special requirements for an out-patient prescription written for a CDa. There are no special requirements for CDb for in our out-patients and therefore can be ordered under a normal prescription.
To conclude, the amendments made to the Federal Law No 14 of 1995 have emphasized on the importance of ensuring UAE to be a drug-free society. The amendments portray how the safety and welfare of the citizens are of paramount importance to the government. The Institution of National Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi, established in 2002, has actively offered an incentive for more offenders to come forward in order to get themselves treated without the fear of being prosecuted in the court of law. For more information, visit the Drugs and controlled medicines section of UAE’s official website.
If you find yourself caught in any drug cases in the UAE, contact us for legal support and guidance. We deal with all kinds of narcotics and drug cases in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and other emirates of the UAE.