DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (NWN) — The United Arab Emirates has eased some of its tougher drug laws, easing penalties for travelers arriving in the country with products containing THC, the main narcotic chemical in cannabis.
The new law, published on Sunday in the UAE’s Official Gazette, says people carrying food, drink and other goods with cannabis into the country will no longer be jailed for the first time. Instead, the authorities would seize and destroy the products.
The law marks a marked change for one of the world’s most restrictive countries when it comes to the importation of common drugs for personal use, ranging from cannabis to over-the-counter narcotics, sedatives and amphetamines. Medicines are included. The country strictly prohibits drug sales and trafficking, with drug use punishable by up to four years in prison.
Other changes include reducing the minimum sentence for first-time drug offenders from two years to three months and offering convicts rehabilitation in a detention facility separate from other offenders. Caught foreign drug users are usually deported to their home countries after imprisonment, but the new law leaves that decision up to the judge.
The reforms come as part of a broader legal change, announced by the UAE as it celebrates a half-century since its inception and seeks to boost its image as an attractive metropolitan hub for tourists and investors. . For decades, the country’s penal code based on Islamic law, or Sharia, has routinely jailed expatriates and tourists for crimes that some Westerners would otherwise consider crimes.