Stories of people spending decades in prison or even being sentenced to death because of some small amount of marihuana, or other recreational drugs, are well known. It usually happens in countries that are very religious or have some harsh laws about distribution of drugs, transferring over the borders and even using it for personal use in small amounts. China is well known for that. There was this incident only few years ago when young man from UK was sentenced to death because he was found with certain amount of heroin on him. They say he was a person with special needs, but nothing could help him escape what was waiting for him. UK embassy was helpless, as well as the whole EU.
Whatever your personal believes may be, it is very important to have in mind the laws of the country you are about to visit; the same way you are supposed to respect the laws of your own country. UAE used to be one of the most rigid societies when it came to these things. In the past few years it is a little bit easier for those who have anything to do with recreational drugs.
Until few years ago the minimum sentence was four years for some very small amount and it wasn’t uncommon to get death penalty. Nowadays those four years are replaced with two years sentence, which is much better, and there are also some ways to avoid going to jail; you pay some money and that’s it. It doesn’t mean that one should be totally relaxed when it comes to using or possessing drugs in UAE. Those laws became lighter only because of large amount of tourists visiting Dubai and other areas of UAE; it would be very hard to legally handle all those foreigners in jails. Until seven years ago it was possible to go to jail if they find a substance in your blood! It was considered to be a possession. There were cases when people were convicted because of that, and they were totally unaware of even consuming illegal substances. It happens in clubs, when somebody puts drugs in ones drink in order to get the party started. Pepole were arrested at the airports if they only stepped in something illegal and they were caring it on their shoes. The conclusion is that if compare those zero-tolerance days with the situation as it is today – it is definitely much better.
But whether you are a foreigner or born in UAE, it is important to have in mind the general opinion and traditional circumstances when it comes to illegal substances; especially during the Ramadan period because it is very important holyday for Islam world and this fast period is actually very restrictive about consuming drugs and alcohol.