An American transit traveler was arrested at Dubai International Airport in September after authorities found 37 pods of marijuana oil and 147 pieces of cannabis candy on his person.
Authorities found the 42-year-old defendant carrying about 1,200 grams of cannabis products, along with 19 illegal pain killers and 1.1 grams of cocaine powder in his luggage. A lab report later confirmed the existence of the Cannabidiol (CBD) in the bags.
He was referred to the General Directorate of Anti-Narcotics under the Dubai Public Prosecution by the Dubai Court of First Instance. The man was charged with possession of different illegal substances. Pleading guilty to the charge this week, he claimed the drugs were for his personal use and that he had only been passing through Dubai's airport as part of a transit flight.
The man, arrested on Sept. 4, stood trial on Wednesday. Until his verdict is deduced on Dec. 22, he will continue to be held under police custody.
This is not the first of such occurrences over the last six months. In fact, it is the third major one to take place at Dubai Airport.
According to The National, an American investor, 33, was caught in July carrying 11 pods of CBD, 17 marijuana cigarettes, 380 grams of weed chocolate bars, and two bottles of CBD. "It's for my personal use. I suffer from depression and anxiety," the defendant told a judge during his court hearing. He was charged with the possession and trafficking of illegal drugs.
Prior to this incident, a 31-year-old British tourist was sentenced to 10 years in jail after Dubai authorities found over 307 CBD pods on her in April. Not only was she caught with 4.4 kilograms of marijuana oil in her luggage, but 1.4 grams of cocaine as well. The tourist was charged with possession and smuggling of illegal drugs.
The court judge ordered her deportation and the payment of 50,000 dirhams ($13,600) after serving her sentence.
The defendant's lawyer argued in her defense, saying she had no idea the pods had CBD in them. He added that had she known, she probably would have attempted to hide them better rather than keeping them so visible.
The situation has gotten so severe that the British Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released a warning in September, reminding people of the strict drug laws in the UAE.
"UAE airports have excellent technology and security, so transiting passengers carrying even residual amounts of drugs may be arrested," the FCO warned.
According to CNN, the FCO had to remind people that some skin care products and e-cigarette refills may contain traces of CBD. Such products can be bought legally in the United Kingdom - bear in mind the legal limit of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance in cannabis that gets users high - and therefore do not require to be bought or shipped from abroad.
Under the UAE's new National Cybersecurity Strategy, drugs are strongly forbidden.
"The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy for recreational use of drugs. Federal Law No. 14 of 1995 criminalizes production, import, export, transport, buying, selling, possessing, storing of narcotic and psychotropic substances unless done so as part of supervised and regulated medical or scientific activities in accordance with the applicable laws. The UAE police has dedicated departments to deal with drugs' issues."
However, on Sept. 17, Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued a new law that will allow courts to refer drug addicts to rehab instead of prison. UAE nationals and expats arrested on drug use charges will be admitted to a government-owned drug and alcohol rehabilitation center "without the fear of prosecution."