DUBAI— The United Arab Emirates has relaxed penalties for travelers who arrive in the country with THC-based products, the main intoxicant in cannabis.
Famous for their harsh drug laws, the new law announced Sunday, says people caught carrying food, drinks and other items with cannabis (THC-based products) into the country will no longer land in prison if it’s their first time. Instead they face confiscation of the products.
Associated Press reports that the reforms come as part of a wider legal overhaul announced as the UAE celebrates a half-century since its founding and seeks to boost its image as a cosmopolitan hub attractive to tourists and investors. For decades, the nation’s penal code, based on Islamic law, or Shariah, has routinely landed expats and tourists in jail for offenses that few Westerners would otherwise consider crimes.
The UAE is not a significant cannabis producer or consumer, but is a major transshipment point for cannabis from Pakistan and Afghanistan, due to its free ports and shipping connections to destinations all over the world.
This move is a major change for one of the world’s most conservative nations when it comes to drug use. From cannabis to over-the-counter medications like narcotics, sedatives and amphetamines are all strictly prohibited with use punishable by four years in jail.
Other changes include reducing minimum sentences from two years to three months for first-time drug offenders. Foreign drug users who are caught are usually deported home countries, but the new law leaves that decision up to the judge.
(This information is primarily sourced from Associated Press. Highly Capitalized has neither approved nor disapproved the contents of this news release. Read our Disclaimer here).