CBD Oil Dubai

Billy Hood claims he was forced to sign a confession in Arabic despite not speaking the language. UAE Defies Global Trend Towards Cannabis Liberalization As the cannabis industry is growing across much of Western Europe and North America, businesses would be wise to familiarise themselves A 24-year-old man from the U.K. has reportedly been sentenced to 25 years in prison in Dubai for possessing CBD oil.

Football coach appeals 25-year Dubai jail term over CBD vape oil

Billy Hood from Notting Hill, west London, was arrested on 31 January, shortly after moving to the country.

The 24-year-old claims he was forced to sign a confession written in Arabic despite not speaking the language.

An appeal hearing at Abu Dhabi Court has been set for 30 November.

Mr Hood, who played semi-professional football for Kensington and Ealing Borough FC, told campaign group Detained in Dubai that police had unexpectedly turned up and demanded to search his home and car.

He told the group he was taken to a “police station and kept in an isolation cell for 14 days without any hygiene products”.

Mr Hood claimed the oil was left by a friend who had been visiting from England two weeks earlier.

But he claimed he was forced to sign a confession after being pressured by local law enforcement.

This month he was convicted by a court of drug trafficking with intent to supply.

Detained in Dubai chief executive Radha Stirling said: “Billy has already spent a horrendous nine months in a Dubai jail notorious for human rights violations after being forced to confess to serious crimes in Arabic.

“Adding yet another delay to his freedom and the review of his defence evidence is gutting to the family and to Billy. Every day an innocent man spends a day in prison is a travesty.”

Vaping cannabidiol (CBD) oil is legal in the UK and has become extremely popular – typically used to relieve pain, anxiety or stress.

The Foreign Office advise there is a “zero-tolerance for drugs-related offences” in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Sentences for drug trafficking can include the death penalty and possession of even the smallest amount of illegal drugs can lead to a minimum four-year jail sentence.

In a statement the UAE’s public prosecution said: “Mr Hood was convicted based on evidence including the items found in his possession, information on his phone, third party statement, and his own confession.

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“Mr Hood had access to an English interpreter at all relevant stages, including his questioning, confession, and trial.

“He was represented in his trial by a defence lawyer whom he selected. The UAE provided full access to Mr Hood for UK diplomatic and consular representatives, who visited him in custody.

“Mr Hood has since appealed the initial ruling in accordance with UAE law and will receive a hearing at Abu Dhabi Court. At all times, Mr Hood has been treated in accordance with the UAE law and applicable international standards.”

UAE Defies Global Trend Towards Cannabis Liberalization

As the cannabis industry is growing across much of Western Europe and North America, businesses would be wise to familiarise themselves with the UAE framework to avoid any unintended consequences as seen in the recent case of Billy Hood (see here). The UAE maintains a strict zero tolerance policy on the use of cannabis as further explained below.

UAE Framework:

  • Federal Decree-Law No. 30/2021 On Combating Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (the “Law“).

The Law prohibits the procurement, import, export, manufacture, extraction, separation, production, possession, acquisition and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Cannabis is specifically mentioned and its definition includes cannabis-derived products (including but not limited to hemp, hemp seeds, and THC and CBD-related products).

Medical Use:

The Law does allow for the use of cannabis for medical purposes strictly and as long as it is prescribed by a licensed physician in the UAE. Clinical trials can also be conducted, however only controlled medical applications of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances may be administered for scientific research and this must approved by the Ministry of Health and Prevention. The private and public sector are prevented from growing, manufacturing and selling cannabis products for recreational purposes but it may be imported for medicinal purposes. Under the Law, cannabis products may be imported into the UAE but this will require a written permit signed by the director of the importing company and in the format prescribed by the relevant UAE competent authority.

As a result, the feasibility of marketing even medical cannabis in the UAE is currently very low.

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Hemp products

At the moment, there is no distinction between cannabis and hemp. However, there is an exemption for hemp seed oil (not hemp seeds), as hemp seed oil is permitted for use in the UAE. The Dubai Municipality confirmed in a news article published in January 2019 that the sale and purchase of hemp seed oil is legal, and hemp seed oil can be found in cosmetics and health care products sold in the UAE. The extraction process used for hemp seed oil (similar to olives and coconuts) means that it does not have narcotic properties and as such its use is permitted.

Penalties under the Law

The Law provides for the following penalties:

  • If found in possession of cannabis, a first time offender may be to sentenced to imprisonment between three months and up to one year and given a fine of an amount between AED 20,000 (approx. USD 5,400) and AED 100,000 (approx. USD 27,000). The UAE courts have the discretion to exchange punishment for first-time offenders with treatment in specialized rehabilitation units to be established across the UAE under the Law.
  • Repeat offenders will have increased punishments ranging from 6 months to 2 years imprisonment and fines between AED 30,000 (approx. USD 8,000) to AED 100,000.
  • If found to be selling or distributing cannabis in the UAE, a penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than 10 years and not more than 15 years will be imposed on offenders and the individual will also face a fine of not less than AED 100,000. For repeat offenders the penalty will be increased to life imprisonment (25 years) and another fine of AED 100,000.
  • For causing harm to another, the penalty is imprisonment for no less than 7 years and a fine of no less than AED 100,000. In the case of serious harm, imprisonment is no less than 10 years and a fine of no less than AED 200,000 may be imposed.
  • Any non-UAE national found guilty of the aforesaid crimes will likely be deported after serving the prison sentence.
  • Under the Law, drug trafficking or causing the death of the victim through drugs is punishable by an imprisonment of 25 years or in extremely rare cases by death (usually executed by firing squad). In February 2020 four men were sentenced to death for smuggling heroin into the UAE (see here).
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In looking towards the future, it is clear that the UAE will still maintain a strict policy on cannabis as evidenced by the imprisonment of the British football coach Billy Hood (see our blog post on this case). Furthermore, the marketing of cannabis for medicinal products will still be of limited value in light of the current framework. For further information please contact Laya Aoun of our Dubai office.

UK man sentenced to 25 years in prison for possession of CBD in Dubai, reports say

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A 24-year-old man from the U.K. has reportedly been sentenced to 25 years in prison in Dubai for possessing CBD oil.

Sky News and The Sun report the London man, Billy Hood, was working as a football coach in the United Arab Emirates when police there discovered four small bottles of CBD and a vape pen in his vehicle earlier this year.

As a result, Hood was arrested and subsequently convicted of drug trafficking with intent to supply earlier this month, the British outlets report.

Like THC, CBD is a compound found in cannabis plants, but it doesn’t produce a high like THC does. CBD is legal in the U.K., but the compound isn’t tolerated under the UAE’s strict drug laws.

According to Sky News, Hood claims a friend left the CBD bottles and vape pen in his car. After his arrest, the man says he was told he wouldn’t be released from his cell unless he signed a confession written in Arabic, and he was allegedly refused a translator. In the end, he did end up signing the confession.

The UAE government told Sky News that Hood had access to a translator at all times, and the ruling was made in accordance with the country’s laws.

Hood is now awaiting an appeal hearing.

Meanwhile, Hood’s loved ones are fighting to get him released and are urging the U.K. government to assist them.

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