x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Prosecutors target illegal use of 'mind-altering' medications

Prosecutors are going after people who use mind-altering drugs without a prescription after string of arrests over Tramadol.

DUBAI // People abusing controlled medications identified as mind-altering substances will be tracked down and brought to justice, officials said this week.

Chief Prosecutor Waleed Ali Khalifa al Fuqaie, head of drugs prosecution at Dubai Public Prosecution, said in a news conference that the nine-member prosecution team has investigated 44 such cases so far this year. Ten were referred to court and four resulted in convictions, he said.

"In the four cases, the defendants, a stateless, Yemeni, Iranian and an Emirati, were all handed one-year sentences each for using Tramadol," he said.

Controlled medications are only given to people with a signed and stamped prescription from a specialised doctor. That category of drugs includes painkillers, anticholinergics and anti-depressants, Mr al Fuqaie said.

He said that many of those who were addicted to such substances believed no legal action would be taken against them because the substances were not banned.

"They are mistaken," he said.

The prosecution would refer a suspect only after ensuring that he or she did not possess a prescription, Mr al Fuqaie said.

He said suppliers were mostly unemployed, and no doctors or pharmacists had been involved in any of the cases.

Last year, 752 drug related cases were referred to court, of which 281 involved consumption.