Significant Aspects of the UAE Drug Crime Laws and Penalties

The UAE makes its citizens bound to follow the rule of law and the policies about the use and trafficking of narcotics. The Emirati legislator considers drug control of utmost importance and has enacted multiple laws and international agreements to combat drugs and drug trafficking.

Statement of The Law

The Federal Decree-Law No. 14 of 1995 on the Control of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances came under the rule of the law in 1995. In 2016 certain provisions of the Drug Law were amended under Federal Decree-Law No. 8 of 2016.

Article No. 6 Amended by the Federal Decree Law No.8

The exchange and use of narcotics and psychotropic substances outlined in schedules no. 1, 2, 4, and 5, as well as other activities and behaviors regarding this, shall be prohibited. Medical uses, as well as scientific researches on said substances, will be overseen, and may be carried out, with the knowledge of a specialized scientific party as determined under a cabinet decision upon the proposal of the Minister of Health and Prevention.

The Exchange of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances

By Article 10 of the Drug Law, the import or export of narcotics and psychotropic substances shall be prohibited unless by a written permit from the competent authority.

Article 11 of the Drug Law states that the following parties may grant a permit of authorization:

  • Governmental parties and accredited institution
  • Governmental or licensed hospitals, dispensaries, and sanatoriums.
  • Licensed chemical analyses or medical, scientific, and industrial laboratories.
  • Licensed pharmaceutical warehouses, pharmacies, medical pharmaceuticals factories, provided that they employ a responsible pharmacist licensed to practice the profession.
  • Offices of intermediaries and agents of medicinal and pharmaceutical factories and companies licensed to practice the profession, provided that they employ a responsible, licensed pharmacist.

Article 12 of the Drug Law states that the aforementioned permit may not be granted to the following persons without rehabilitation:

  • Persons condemned and sentenced for a crime of breach of trust; 
  • Persons condemned one of the crimes outlined in the Drug Law.
  • Persons condemned with a crime involving money, or a property related matter, as well as the suspicion of commitment or attempt to commit any of said crimes.

As per Article 13 of the Drug Law, narcotics or psychotropic substances arriving at UAE Customs may not be released without the necessary permit signed by the director under the responsibility.

Determined Penalties

As stated in Article 6 above, the sale, possession, or manufacturing of illicit narcotics is prohibited and as such, the penalties related thereto are severe. The penalties prescribed are based on the type of offense.

Article 58 of the Drug Law provides that a person convicted more than once for a crime provided for in the Drug Law may be sentenced by the court

  • The restriction of domicile to a particular place.
  • The commitment to reside in his home country.
  • The commitment to reside in his home country.
  • The prohibition from frequenting specific locations or places.
  • The deprivation of the right to practice a certain profession or craft.

Drug Addiction Treatment

According to Article 42 of the Drug Law, the court may, except in the case of recidivism, instead of imposing penalties on the perpetrator, order any of the following:
  • To circumscribe the perpetrator to a rehabilitation center
  • To impose on the perpetrator a fine not exceeding AED 10,000
  • To impose a measure of community service on the perpetrator
  • To circumscribe the perpetrator to an addiction treatment unit;

Furthermore, Article 43 of the Drug Law provides:

No criminal proceedings shall be instituted against any abuser of narcotics or psychotropic substances who voluntarily presents himself. In cases where the abuser is not confined to a treatment unit by the Public Prosecution, the confining entity must obtain the Public Prosecution’s approval upon the confinement of the abuser. The period of treatment and rehabilitation shall not exceed two years. The provision of this Article shall not apply to the abuser who possessed a narcotic and did not hand it over to the unit, or the Public Prosecution.

Particular Cases of Exemption

Article 55 of the Drug Law stipulates that any perpetrator, who notifies the judicial or administrative authorities of any information with regards to a crime shall be exempt from penalties for certain crimes as more specifically set out in Articles 46, 48, 49, and 50 of the Drug Law. In such cases, the court may release the perpetrator from punishment, or reduce the punishment. Notification will be issued before the beginning of the investigation into the crime.

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