UAE says British man arrested for possession of synthetic cannabis oil has right of appeal

Official statement says Billy Hood was represented by a defence lawyer and has had full consular access

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, April 27: View of the Dubai Public Prosecution building in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Stock

UAE authorities have said that a British man arrested for possession of synthetic cannabis oil has the right of appeal and his case is now pending the court of appeal’s decision. The UAE considers drug dealing a serious crime and is known to have a “zero-tolerance approach”.

Billy Hood, 25, was arrested in the Emirates on February 2 and charged with drug trafficking after his car was searched and substantial amounts of cannabis oil were found.

The General Directorate for Drug Control (GDDC) received a tip-off that Mr Hood possessed quantities of synthetic cannabis oil with the intention of selling, according to a statement from the UAE’s Public Prosecution.

A source from the GDDC said that the man “had quantities of cannabis oil intended for trafficking in return for financial gain”, including the cannabis oil, substantial amounts of cash, an electronic hookah, various storage bottles and boxes and 570 individual cartridges to be used for substance vaping.

The statement said Mr Hood was convicted “based on evidence including the items found in his possession, information on his phone, a third-party statement and his own confession”.

“Mr Hood has since appealed the initial ruling in accordance with UAE law, and his case is now pending with the Court of Appeal. At all times, he has been treated in accordance with UAE law and applicable international standards”, according to an official statement from the UAE Public Prosecution.

There were reports in British media in which Mr Hood alleged that he was not treated well and was forced to sign a confession written in Arabic despite not speaking the language. The public prosecution office said that Mr Hood has had access to an English interpreter at all stages, including for 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,” the statement read.

“The UAE Government considers that drug dealing is a serious crime. Like a number of other governments, it takes a zero-tolerance approach, and this is well known. It seeks to protect its communities from the serious dangers posed by illicit narcotics.”

The UN Office of Drugs and Crime has categorised MDMB-4en-PINACA - the cannabis oil that was found in Mr Hood’s car - as a Schedule II substance, with severe adverse health effects and fatal intoxication, which has no therapeutic use.

According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, MDMB-4en-PINACA was placed under international control at the 64th regular session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in April 2021 (Schedule II of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971) upon recommendation by the World Health Organisation.

The substance is a potent synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist - with similar effects to a number of other synthetic cannabinoids that are controlled under Schedule II of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971.

The use of MDMB-4en-PINACA has been associated with severe adverse effects, including fatal intoxications, and cases of impaired driving.

MDMB-4en-PINACA has no therapeutic use, according to WHO.

Updated: October 16th 2021, 12:56 PM
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