Caution: Do not use marijuana (or other prohibited drugs) before traveling to the UAE
Most travellers are aware that using drugs within the UAE is a serious crime, but may not be aware that having marijuana residue in their system can result in a 4 year prison sentence. With marijuana being legal in some countries in Europe, the ill researched traveller could end up serving time if the police perform a blood or urine test that proves positive.
Samples for testing could be taken due to suspicion at the airport or in the event that one is involved in any other incident in the UAE such as an accusation of verbal abuse, alcohol consumption, or even a traffic related accident.
While blood tests only return results for very recent consumption, urine tests can detect usage for up to 46 days and therefore, one could be convicted and sentenced to the minimum prison term of four years. Drug related prosecutions are difficult to defend in court as the evidence taking process is not open to the kind of scrutiny that other countries allow. Results are accepted by the Courts to be accurate at face value, even where foreign Courts might have ruled them out of evidence.
There is no legal defence to undisputed evidence of drugs consumption and many a foreigner has unexpectedly been convicted for consuming a prohibited drug outside of the UAE.
The same can be said for other prohibited drugs, some of which are legal prescriptions such as codeine or xanax. A woman suffering from back pain was convicted and imprisoned for having prescribed codeine in her system.
Refer to the UAE Government´s guidelines on prohibited medication prior to travel.