criminal law

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November 28, 2021

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The UAE has long-standing laws in place governing the use, production and distribution of narcotics and psychotropic substances, designed to protect individuals, companies, and society at large, and to prosecute those who act in contradiction to the laws.

The UAE issued a new law on narcotics and psychotropic substances, called the Federal Decree-Law No. 30/2021 On Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (New Drugs Law), which strengthens that resolve, while also adding provisions and advisory bodies to support treatment, monitor and regulate the narcotics and psychotropic substances.

The New Drugs Law abrogated and repealed Federal Law Number 14 of 1994 on narcotic and psychotropic drugs.

Some key features of the New Drugs Law are as follows.

Narcotics & Psychotropic Substances

The Revised Substances Schedules specifically define and refine the description of narcotics and psychotropic substances as either natural or synthetic, and reinforce that their import, export, transport, production, manufacture, possession, acquisition or bringing in, and other types of activities are prohibited under Articles 10 and 11 of the New Drugs Law.

Narcotics Control Board

Article 3 of the New Drugs Law provides for the establishment of the Narcotics Control Board for developing a comprehensive national strategy to combat drugs and the ministries, and federal and local authorities will comply with this strategy.

Rehabilitation and Treatment Centre

In accordance with Article 5 of the New Drugs Law, specialized units serving as rehabilitation and treatment centres for addicts of narcotics and psychotropic substances are to be established by the Ministry of Health and Community Protection. Article 6 of the New Drugs Law further states all information related to the affairs of the addicts and abusers confined to these units will be confidential and disclosure or broadcast of such information is prohibited, unless required by law.

Increased Medical Checks

Under Article 34, a pharmacy is allowed to dispense any narcotics and psychotropic substances only under a medical prescription. A pharmacy is prohibited from dispensing these substances if the percentage written in the prescription exceeds those indicated in Schedule 9 of the New Drugs Law.

Increased Judicial Discretion

Using narcotic or psychotropic substances for personal use could result in imprisonment and fines (Articles 41, 42, 43 and 44). That said, if the convict is a first-time offender, Article 45 of this law entitles the competent court to replace the penalties of imprisonment and fines by placing the convict in a rehabilitation unit. As regards deportation, the court has the discretion whether to order the deportation of a foreigner or not, under Article 75 of the law.

Penalties

The penalties under the New Drugs Law include imprisonment sentences and fines. There is a minimum penalty of 3 months imprisonment or fines between AED 20,000 and 100,000 (ref: Article 41) for personally using or abusing certain specified narcotics or psychotropic substances.

For repeat offenders, there are higher penalties of no less than 6 months imprisonment or fines of no less than AED 30,000 to 100,000. Similarly, for third-time offenders, imprisonment is not less than 2 years or a fine not less than AED 100,000 (Ref: Article 41).

For those inducing or inciting a person to abuse or personally use drugs mentioned in Articles 41, 42, 43 and 44, the penalty is imprisonment for not less than 5 years and a fine of not less than AED 50,000 (ref: Article 48).

The penalty is imprisonment for not less than 7 years and a fine of not less than AED 100,000, if a person induces or incites another person to abuse or personally use drugs with an intent to harm, leading to an injury. In the case of serious harm, imprisonment is not less than 10 years and a fine of not less than AED 200,000. If the crime results in the death of the victim, the court can impose life imprisonment or a death sentence (ref: Article 49).

A person who manages, prepares, or sets up a place for the abuse of specified narcotics or psychotropic substances, shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than 10 years and a fine of AED 100,000. Penalties of life imprisonment and fines of not less than AED 100,000 will be imposed in case of a repeat offence.

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