The new law will come into force on January 2, 2022
The UAE has released amendments to the anti-narcotics law as part of the recent largest legislative reform package in the country’s history.
The new Federal Legislative Decree no. 30 of 2021 on the fight against narcotics and psychotropic substances, which will come into force on January 2, 2022, brings key changes to Federal Law no. 14 of 1994.
Some of the highlights of the drug law include the rehabilitation of first-time drug-addicted offenders, the optional expulsion of expatriates convicted in drug-related cases, and tougher sentences for serial offenders.
Another amendment broadened the jurisdiction of Abu Dhabi’s federal courts to hear exclusively drug promotion cases, in addition to drug trafficking, regardless of where the crime is committed in the country.
On Saturday, the UAE government announced changes to 40 laws as part of the biggest legislative reforms ever in the young country’s 50-year history. The new reforms aim to develop the legislative structure of various sectors including investment, commerce and industry, trading companies, residence, online security and social affairs as the UAE prepares to inaugurate their next 50-year trip.
Dr Hasan Elhais, legal consultant at Al Rowaad Advocates, said the new drug law presents a comprehensive approach to tackling the use and promotion of narcotics.
“It takes into account justice, public health, safety and family relations,” Elhais said.
He added that the philosophy behind the legislation responds to the need for a coordinated approach that combines criminal justice, public health and family ties.
Amendments to the Drugs Act make it possible for persons convicted for the first time for personal use and possession of narcotics to seek treatment, while ensuring a brake on promotion, sale and use. repeated drugs by harsher penalties.
Elhais noted that the changes also indicate that the country views drug use as a disease rather than a crime.
Treatment of drug addicted first offenders
One of the salient points of the law is the replacement of the sentence by treatment for first-time convicts for personal use and possession of drugs.
From January next year, courts will have increased jurisdiction to send offenders to specialized rehabilitation and treatment centers that will be established across the country by law, where they can serve their prison terms. .
The provision only applies if the convicted person is not a repeat offender and on the medical report of the case presented by the medical supervisory commission within six months.
It will also not apply to offenders who have previously received treatment in a court-ordered rehabilitation unit or who have not completed three years from the date of previous treatment.
The offender’s admission to rehabilitation should not exceed one year.
By law, rehabilitation centers are required to maintain complete confidentiality of all information concerning offenders.
Elhais said serving a sentence at these centers would help reintegrate drug addicts into society through rehabilitation, sports and vocational training and social integration programs.
Subject to the opinion of the public prosecutor, the court has the right to release the offender from the specialized unit in both cases:
If the medical report obtained from the oversight committee indicates that the offender is fit to leave.
Whether the oversight committee approves the offender’s request to leave the facility.
The new law orders the creation of specialized treatment and rehabilitation centers, as well as a committee to oversee the rehabilitation units. Local health authorities are mandated to establish similar units.
The cabinet will issue regulations to govern processing units.
If the oversight committee reports on any offenses or crimes committed by the offender during the time of admission, the court has the right to sentence the offender to prison according to the offense. The period of time the offender spends in rehab will be reduced by the overall jail term.
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More severe penalties for serial offenders
While those first convicted of personal use and drug possession may have their sentence exchanged for treatment under the new law, repeat offenses may result in harsher sentences.
The decree-law introduces three levels of punishment pronounced against the use and possession of drugs.
First-time convicts are liable to three months’ imprisonment or a fine of at least 20,000 Dh and not exceeding 100,000 Dh, which may be replaced by treatment depending on the court decision. .
A repeat offense within three years of the first conviction may result in the offender being imprisoned for six months or a fine of at least 30,000 Dh and at most 100,000 Dh.
However, a third offense carries both a two-year prison sentence and a fine of at least Dh 100,000.
Elhais explained that “first and second time violators will be subject to a fine or jail time, but on the third violation they will be subject to both jail and a fine.”
Heavier fines for incitement and facilitation of drug use
Fines for offenses related to incitement and incitement to drug consumption and to facilitating the sale of drugs have been reduced from 20,000 Dh.
The new law imposes a minimum of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 Dh on any person who incites, incites or facilitates the consumption of drugs for another person. The crime will be considered an aggravating circumstance if it took place in public gatherings, educational and sports institutions or places of worship and involved a woman, a minor, a specific person or a person under the influence of the alcohol.
If the crime caused harm to the victim, the offender incurs a minimum of 7 years in prison and a fine of at least 100,000 Dh. If serious harm has been caused, the offender faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a fine of at least 200,000 AED. If the crime results in the death of the victim, the offender faces the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Those who manage, prepare or arrange places of drug consumption incur a prison sentence of at least 7 or 10 years, depending on the substances facilitated, and a minimum fine of 100,000 Dh. The penalty in the event of a repeat offense was increased to life imprisonment associated with a minimum fine of 100,000 Dh.
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Optional expulsion of expatriates
The new law removes the old mandatory deportation of expatriates convicted of drug abuse or possession for personal use, giving the courts the possibility to decide.
It also stipulates that tourists and visitors carrying food or drug-mixed products when entering the country for the first time will not be subject to prosecution. According to article 96, the objects will be confiscated at the entrances to the port and destroyed by the competent authorities. The transport of such items will not be dealt with as part of the import, transport or possession of drugs.
The law now requires doctors to submit a request to the specialized medical authority before increasing the dose of any drug containing narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, if the patient’s condition so requires.
Doctors are only authorized to issue medical prescriptions for narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances if the patient’s condition so requires, depending on the doctor’s specialization and in compliance with the percentages indicated in the order.
Under article 59 of the new decree, any person authorized to hold substances in question for the purpose of use will be liable to at least five years in prison and a minimum fine of 100,000 Dh.
If the license holder has used the substance for marketing or commercial purposes, the offender faces life imprisonment and a fine of at least 100,000 Dh and not exceeding 200,000 Dh. Recidivism is worth a death sentence for the offender.