As part of the most significant legislative reforms in the countrys history, the UAE on Saturday issued amendments on the anti-narcotics law that involves treatment for first-time drug offenders, optional deportation of expats in drug-related cases and tougher penalties on serial offenders.

The new federal decree law no. 30 of 2021 on combating narcotics and psychotropic substances, to be effective from January 2, 2022, brings vital amendments to the Federal Law no. 14 of 1994.

The amendments aim to move the UAE laws in line with best international practices while ensuring a drug-free society in a coordinated approach that takes public health into account.

The drug law comes as part of the largest set of legislative reforms in the young countrys 50-year history, approved on Saturday by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The amendments aim to develop legislative structure in various sectors including investment, trade and industry, residency, online security and social affairs.

Treatment of first-time drug offenders

Among the highlights, the new drug law replaces punishment with treatment for first-time offenders in drug-related cases.

The law orders the establishment of specialized rehabilitation and treatment units across the country.

Accordingly, the new decree law gives the court the discretion to exchange drug abuse punishment with treatment in specialized units where first-time offenders can spend their term.


Legal consultant Dr Hasan Elhais of Al Rowaad Advocates said the centres will provide rehabilitation and training, sports and vocational training and social integration programmes.

The new rule will help reintegrate former drug users and addicts into the society, said Elhais.

Rehabilitation centres are bound by the law to maintain complete confidentiality of all information about offenders.

The provision applies only if drug use is not repeated and upon a medical opinion submitted by the supervisory medical committee within six months.

Subject to the opinion from the public prosecution, the courts shall have the discretion to release the offender from the specialized unit in the two instances:

If it has been indicated in the medical report obtained from the special supervisory committee that the person is fit to leave.

Based on the request of the admitted person after the approval of the special supervisory committee.

Admission in rehab should not exceed one year.

In case of any breaches or crimes during the time of admission raised by the supervisory committee, the offender will be subject to a jail term depending on the offense. The time that the offender spends in rehab will be reduced from the overall jail term.


Optional deportation of expats

Article no. 75 of the decree law no.30 of 2021 stipulates optional deportation of expats in drug-related cases.

Previously, deportation was mandatory against expatriates convicted of drug use and possession of drugs for personal use.

Article 96 of the new law also provides that tourists and visitors carrying food items or products mixed with narcotics will not face legal action. The items will be confiscated and destroyed at the airports or any entry ports of the country.

Tougher penalties on serial offenders

Under the new decree law, first-time drug offenders are subject to a three-month prison term or a fine between Dh20,000- Dh100,000.

In cases of repeated offense within three years of the first drug abuse, the offender will be jailed for six months or slapped a fine between Dh30,000-Dh100,000.

However, a third-time offense brings a two-year prison term and a fine of at least Dh100,000.

Elhais explained, first- and second-time offenders will face either a fine or imprisonment but in the third-time violation, they will be subject to both jail and fine.

Heftier fines for inciting and facilitating drug use

Fines of crimes related to inciting and inducing drug use and facilitating narcotics sales increased from the previous Dh20,000.

The new law imposes a minimum of 5-year imprisonment and a Dh50,000 fine on anyone who induced, incited or facilitated drug use for another person.

If the offender's actions caused harm to the victim, the offender faces a 7-year jail term and a minimum fine of Dh100,000. If serious harm was caused, the offender faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a Dh200,000 fine at least. If the crime results in the victim's death, the offender faces the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Those who manage, prepare or set up places for drug consumption shall face a jail term of at least 7 or 10 years, depending on the substance facilitated, and a minimum fine of Dh100,000. The penalty of repeated offence has increased to life imprisonment combined with a minimum Dh100,000 fine.

Medical use

Physicians may allow medical prescriptions for any narcotics or psychotropic substances only if the medical condition requires, on the specialization of the physician and in compliance with the percentages indicated in the decree.

What is now made mandatory is that the physician will need to submit a request to the specialized medical authority before increasing the dose percentage if the patients condition requires so.

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