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British football coach Billy Hood has been stuck in a Dubai prison since 2021, when he was caught and charged with CBD possession. How did this happen? The United Arab Emirates has a track record of dishing out super-harsh drug penalties.

Brit sentenced to 10 years in prison in Dubai – for CBD oil

The laws and regulations surrounding CBD can sometimes be complicated and confusing, but they are usually not that scary.

When you live in Europe, USA or Canada, the worst thing that can happen if you accidentally break some laws regarding CBD is that your products will be confiscated and you might get a fine. Not great, but also not so bad.

  • A British national living in Dubai got arrested for CBD possession
  • He was sentenced for 25 years in prison
  • The sentence was reduced to 10 years
  • He is currently in prison, with no chance for release in the foreseeable future

However, even though CBD is legal and accepted in many parts of the world, there are still selected places where one can get into a lot of trouble if caught with Cannabidiol (CBD). For example, the approach toward CBD in the UAE is rigorous, and expats and tourists may pay a very high price for having any CBD products on them. This was the case with Billy Hood – a Brit sentenced to 25 years in prison for CBD vapes that were not even his.

How is that possible, and could this happen to you?

Who is Billy Hood?

Billy is a 24-year-old football player and coach who moved to Dubai in 2020. Like so many other young internationals, Billy had hoped relocating to the UAE would be an excellent career move. The salaries of coaches in the UAE are much higher than in the UK, and jobs for internationals are widely available.

Shortly after moving to the country, Billy started working with children and teenagers as a football coach. As he settled in, some of his friends from the UK came to visit. Unfortunately, one of them brought some CBD vapes, which would turn out to be a huge mistake.

What happened to Billy Hood?

In 2021, Billy’s friend came to visit. Billy drove straight home after picking his friend up from Dubai airport. When he later left his apartment to fetch a charger from his car, he was met by local police who accused him of drug possession. The police proceeded to search his car, his flat, and Billy himself. He did not object, as he had nothing to hide and wanted to get this misunderstanding solved quickly.

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Unfortunately, that is not what happened. Instead, the police officers found 4 small CBD vape cartridges in Billy’s car, most likely left behind by the friend who had visited Billy previously.

The police arrested Billy and accused him of possessing and selling drugs. It is believed that they based their accusations on his WhatsApp conversations that included some drug-related keywords, and which the police monitored.

After being detained, Billy was presented with confession documents which the authorities demanded he signs. His request to see a translation from Arabic to English was rejected. Instead, he was told that the only way to leave the detention was to sign a confession he did not understand.

Billy refused. He was then put in isolation without access to any hygienic products and remained there for 14 days. It was too much for him to handle. Finally, Billy broke and signed the untrue confession when pressured by the police again.

The confession was followed by a sentence of 25 years in prison. After Billy’s lawyers appealed to overturn the verdict, the sentence was reduced to 10 years. The decision was made without the court ever listening to the lawyer’s arguments or Billy appearing in court.

Is CBD legal in the UAE?

The UAE is one of the strictest countries in the world when it comes to drug laws. And according to the UAE – CBD is a drug.

Any drug possession is illegal in the UEA. It is even illegal to have drugs in your bloodstream. This includes drugs and medication consumed in a country where they are entirely legal.

Can someone from the UK or the EU be sentenced for CBD oil they purchased back home?

CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid derived from a cannabis plant, is legal in many countries.

As it does not get users high, it is not considered a drug – as confirmed by the European Court of Justice ruling from 2020.

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CBD is a supplement with many potential health benefits, helping people cope with various symptoms of health issues every day. Yet, there is no global consensus on the legal status of CBD, and each country has its own rules and regulations. This even applies to countries within the EU.

When you travel with CBD, it does not matter what the laws are at the place of your departure. Instead, the CBD laws at your final destination (and transit, if you have one) are what matter.

Many people are not aware of these rules. As a result, they are often met with a fine and the confiscation of their products.

Yet, some countries have such strict drug policies that the punishment is much more brutal. UAE is one of those countries, and this is why Billy is currently in prison.

Are there other innocent internationals in prisons in Dubai?

The case of Billy is far from being the only one.

Detained In Dubai is an organisation helping foreigners stuck in UAE’s jails and prisons. According to the organisation, it’s very common for UAE police to arrest expats for shockingly minor offences. For example, people have been arrested for “specs of dust” in their bags, consuming alcohol, having poppy seeds found on their clothing, or 0.003 grams of cannabis stuck to the sole of a shoe.

According to the organisation, local authorities are known for forcing false confessions, committing shocking human rights violations, and keeping innocent people in jail.

There are many more people like Billy, and what makes this so frightening is that this could happen to any one of us. Because Billy is not a criminal. He is just a young man who got extremely unlucky.

Man Jailed for 25 Years In Dubai Over Small Amount of CBD Vape Oil

A 24-year-old British football coach has been jailed for 25 years in Dubai after police found a small amount of CBD vape oil in his car.

Billy Hood claims he was forced to sign a false confession to trafficking the drug, which is legal to vape in the UK and is usually used for treating pain.

Although it does not get you high, CBD, a chemical found in cannabis, is illegal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because it contains trace elements of THC, the psychoactive component of weed.

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The Worst Places in the World to Get Busted with Weed

“There are two crimes here,” said George McBride, managing director of Hanway Associates, a UK-based cannabis industry consultancy. “Forcing someone to sign a false confession & possession of a harmless medicine. One crime will ruin the culprit’s life and the other will likely go unpunished. The drug war turns police into gangsters and patients into criminals. Boycott the UAE.”

Hood, a former semi-pro player from west London, worked as a football coach in the UAE before his arrest in January. It is a country notorious for its ultra zero-tolerance stance on drug-related offences.

In 2017 another British man, Connor Clements, 24 at the time, was sentenced to two years in jail after he moved to Dubai and took a drug test which showed he’d consumed cannabis.

In 2008 Keith Brown, a council youth development officer from the West Midlands, famously was sentenced to four years after customs officers in Dubai found a speck of cannabis smaller than a grain of sugar stuck onto the soul of his shoe.

UAE is one of a collection of countries that hand out the death penalty for some drug offences, although the last time it executed someone for a drug crime was 2016.

This week a court in Singapore, where at least 27 people are in jail awaiting to be hanged for drug offences, dismissed the appeal of a man against a death sentence of hanging for allegedly smuggling 1kg of weed. In April Vice World News revealed Singapore and Indonesia were sentencing drug offenders to death over Zoom calls.

“The UAE promotes itself as a glamorous ‘party place’ to foreigners with marketing designed to lure over investors, skilled labour and tourists,” said Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai who is helping Hood and his family. “Celebrities are paid to market the country, ultimately masking the truth for money. Dubai police’s handling of drug cases has resulted in numerous unfair detentions of foreign nationals.”

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