American citizen may face jail time in Dubai for smoking cannabis in the United States
An American may have to spend years in a Dubai prison for legally doing so in the United States.
In a cautionary and terrifying story that has drawn attention to the ultra-criminal anti-drug laws of the United Arab Emirates, Peter Clark found himself in legal danger over a seemingly incredibly unfortunate series of events.
Here is the backstory posted on Detained in Dubai, a group founded by Radha Stirling that claims to have “helped thousands of injustice victims over the past decade”: Clark, a resident of Las Vegas, flew to Dubai on February 24th “to evaluate professional recording studios.” There he was taken to the hospital for emergency treatment for pancreatitis. At the hospital, the staff performed a urine test and “found traces of hashish residue”.
The website report continues, “They dutifully reported their results to the police, who immediately went to the hospital to indict Peter, who was still in a drowsy state and had not been able to eat or drink since he was admitted. On March 3, Peter was handcuffed and taken to Al Barsha Police Station, where he was placed in a detention cell with three other men. He didn’t understand why he was arrested. He had not brought drugs to the UAE, bought or consumed drugs in Dubai. “
Clark told the Daily Mail that the last time he smoked marijuana was a few days before his flight from Las Vegas to Dubai. Recreational pots are legal to use in Nevada, as are a number of other states and cities in the United States
“I was absolutely stunned to learn that I was charged with residual marijuana in my system. I smoked it legally in America long before I even got on a plane, ”he told the Daily Mail. “I knew about Dubai’s strict drug laws, but I never thought that something I did legally in my own country would lead to my arrest.”
Clark’s current situation in Dubai
Clark was released from his prison cell on March 6, saying “Detained in Dubai” and then “ordered to return to his hotel and wait for their contact.”
He remains there and is apparently “years in prison” ago.
Stirling, who represents Clark, has condemned the UAE’s tough anti-drug laws.
“The UAE’s arbitrary enforcement of laws and the lack of predictable legal outcomes mean that Peter may face years of imprisonment for legally smoking marijuana. Even if found innocent, he can be dragged through a slow and costly legal process, ”Stirling said.
“The UAE creates the illusion that it is a modern party venue and while visitors accept that certain behaviors are illegal, it is very easy to get confused if the police just happen to be enforcing the law. On the one hand, prostitution, homosexuality and indecent behavior are illegal, and yet they are seen more obviously in Dubai than in most other world cities. It’s easy to see how visitors might believe anything is possible and the police will turn a blind eye. The UAE should not prosecute visitors for acts outside their country. Peter didn’t commit any real crime in Dubai. It is clear that the UAE needs to change the technical wording of its drug laws to ensure that foreigners are not unnecessarily persecuted. “
While the final outcome in Peter Clark’s case is yet to be determined, it serves as a sobering reminder that even now many places in the world are particularly hostile to cannabis users. Despite increasing scientific evidence that the plant has significant medicinal potential, many governments (including some local governments in our own country) are choosing to continue criminalizing and vilifying it.
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