UK Man Faces Jail In Dubai For Pot Smoked Before His Flight

And his plight is increasingly common.
UK Man Faces Jail In Dubai For Pot Smoked Before His Flight

Connor Clements relocated to Dubai—the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates and a global coalescing point for wealth and power (and the very stupid and extremely criminal things that happen when too much of either clouds sense)—because he wanted to turn his life around.

The 24-year-old from Liverpool, in the UK’s northeast, hadn’t been doing much at home: Smoking weed, hanging out, “stuck in a rut,” as he explained to the Liverpool Echo. Upon arriving in the Middle East, where as many as 240,000 fellow UK citizens live in Dubai, lured there by the boomtown economy and the notable absence of an income tax, Clements scored a job as a waiter—which is when his current “living nightmare” began.

Living Nightmare: UK Man Faces Jail In Dubai For Pot Smoked Before His Flight

As he related to the Liverpool Echo, Clements was sent in by his employers for a physical examination from a doctor. A new friend of his, who goes by “Sergei,” had apparently been arrested by the police for dealing drugs—he had 10 grams of cannabis on him, which might cost $100 at a dispensary in Colorado or California.

The police asked Sergei to name names, and since Clements had opened up to Sergei about legally using Sativex, a prescription drug that contains synthetic cannabis, Sergei gave him up.

Two police officers were waiting for Clements at the testing area. Apparently, the doctor tested either his blood or his urine and discovered the presence of cannabis metabolites.

The authorities were alerted, and after a brief court appearance that sounds more like a show trial, he was sentenced to two years in prison for consuming marijuana in the UAE. As for Sergei? He was fined and then deported, apparently because he gave the cops enough names.

Clements admits to smoking cannabis but insists he did so weeks before his arrest and detention—while still back at home in England. That doesn’t matter in the UAE. The country has harsh anti-drug laws that consider the “presence of illegal substances in the body” as de-facto possession, according to the Echo.

Here’s Clements’ plea to the paper:

“They are saying I smoked it here—but I did [it] back home, they have got no proof… I used to smoke a lot back home. I came here to stop everything,” he said. “I haven’t committed a crime in the UAE. I was coming over here to totally change my life around. I had a new job and met loads of nice people.”

He’s currently out on bail ahead of an appeals hearing just before Christmas.

According to the paper, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which advocates on behalf of UK citizens stuck in messy situations abroad, is aware of the situation and has contacted Dubai prosecutors on Clements’ behalf. In the meantime, he’s spent some time incarcerated in a crowded jail. He speaks no Arabic, and his captors speak no English, he said.

Credible Story? Very

Foreign nationals detained abroad for spurious circumstances is a frequent occurrence in Dubai, and the story of ancient, long-smoked joints causing real trouble is a familiar tourist tale.

At best, the authorities may have discovered “evidence” of a “crime” committed three months ago or more.

Faithful readers of this publication will no doubt be aware that cannabis metabolites stay in the body long after use. When THC is ingested, the body starts to break it down. THC becomes THC-COOH. THC-COOH is not water soluble—it’s fat soluble, which means it lingers in fatty tissue rather than cycling in and out of the body in a matter of hours, as happens with “hard drugs” like cocaine or heroin.

In this way, a urine test does not detect impairment, as California NORML explains, and is ergo not useful as a metric by law enforcement. Yet it persists, in part because no “better” method exists, but more due to the fact that states legalizing cannabis have been quick to outlaw “stoned driving,” despite a lack of devices that would provide data to determine whether that act is, in fact, actually happening.

Clement’s situation is more familiar to international travelers in places like Thailand, where tourists from the West (and the country’s accommodation of their notorious party lifestyles) have long been at odds with local police and the national mores.

The internet is full of stories of corrupt police, randomly ordering stoner-looking westerners to submit to a “piss test,” discovering evidence of past use and incarcerating or collecting a bribe from the hapless victim.

According to Radha Stirling, CEO of “Detained in Dubai,” a British NGO created because British people getting arrested and thrown into prisons in the desert wonderland is a common occurrence, Clements’ plight is not uncommon.

Might be time to stay away or refrain from relating your drug habits to “new friends.”

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