ABU DHABI // A man accused of smuggling marijuana into the country blamed his wife for packing hemp in his suitcase - telling a court he was unaware she had done so because they do not speak a common language.
The man, an Emirati, prompted fits of laughter in the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court when he placed all the blame on his Asian wife, with whom he said he can communicate only "non-verbally".
He said he goes regularly to her home country as he has a family there as well as land and farms where he grows herbs including hemp. It is derived from the same plant family as marijuana - cannabis sativa - but does not have the same psychoactive properties.
The man said that after his most recent visit his wife had packed various herbs in his suitcase, but that she hadn't told him which ones as he does not speak her language and she cannot speak Arabic.
When asked how he communicated with her, he said they used "non-verbal means" and generally just "get by".
He said that the hemp he was found with was a natural herb with many health benefits that had been used for traditional medicinal purposes by many civilisations, particularly in East Asia. He said he knew this as he had studied 300 Asian religions and cultures.
Medical tests found traces of marijuana in the man's blood, but he said that he had consumed this before leaving his wife's country. She had prepared him a drink made from hemp, ginger and several other herbs.
The drink, he said, was the best in the world and had the potential to cure all illnesses, even cancer. Any cancer patient consuming the drink, he claimed, would be completely cured without the need for chemotherapy or surgery.
"Western countries - may God treat them in the way they deserve - have banned this medicine to propel the peoples of the world to another world war," he said. He added in excitement: "Such attempts will not defeat my Umma [community] which will triumph over all nations."
The court erupted with laughter.
The man was also charged with attacking a customs official and damaging a door at the airport.
He said that his inspection by customs officials was humiliating and constituted a form of sexual assault. This prompted him to resist and try to run away, but he crashed into a glass door and broke it.
The man said he thought that customs had dropped all charges and he was unsure why they were now pursuing the case. He asked for the officials in question to be summoned so that he could confront them.
The case was adjourned until September 17 to allow the customs officers to appear.