x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Police take hard line on Tramadol

Anyone selling the painkiller without a licence will be subject to prosecution, Dubai Police warn amid recreational use fears.

DUBAI // Anyone selling the painkiller Tramadol without a licence will face a prison sentence, prosecutors warned yesterday. 

Prosecutors say they are concerned about people using a controlled drug like Tramadol for recreation. Anyone who sells the drug without approval from authorities - it can be dispensed legally only with a prescription - will be referred to the courts, said Waleed al Fuqai, the head of the Dubai narcotics prosecution office. A strip containing about six pills sells for as little as Dh50 on the street.

Police are particularly keen to find ways to prosecute those found illegally possessing large quantities of Tramadol, which officials consider anything above 500 pills. "The narcotics division has sought to find a solution that would allow it to curb this growing phenomenon, and have utilised penal and federal clauses already present in the legal system to prosecute such individuals," Mr al Fuqai said.

Those caught selling smaller quantities of Tramadol, a synthetic version of codeine, without authorisation are viewed as amateur drug dealers under the law. Mr al Fuqai warned that individuals should not be under the impression that they would get off lightly because they were not dealing with harder drugs, as the UAE has a zero-tolerance policy on the use and trafficking of all illegal drugs. "We are referring any individuals caught with large quantities of Tramadol to the public prosecution," said Major Gen Abdul Jaleel Mahdi, who is with the Dubai police anti-narcotics department. "We have also done a survey and hope to increase awareness of the harmful use of such drugs."

The increased use of Tramadol and fenethylline, the generic name for a prescription stimulant marketed under the brand name Captagon, has created a potenially lucrative market; in one recent case, a Syrian man is accused of smuggling more than 700kg of Captagon pills into Dubai. 

balqabbani@thenational.ae