A British football coach has been arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison in Dubai after police found CBD oil vape cartridges in his rental car.
Billy Hood, a twenty-four-year-old children’s football coach from West London, was charged with the possession, sale, and trafficking of an illegal drug on the 31st of January this year after his friend left the CBD products in his car.
Following his arrest, Hood claims he was beaten and forced to sign a fake confession written in Arabic that he couldn’t understand. The case has made headlines across Britain and around the world in recent days.
CBD is legal in the UK and many other countries around the world, however, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates continue to carry a zero-tolerance policy on all products derived from the cannabis plant.
The compound is derived from the cannabis product, but has no intoxicating properties, unlike its famous relative THC. Nonetheless, possession of CBD can still carry strict punishment in Dubai – as demonstrated in Hood’s case.
Sentencing for drug offences can even include the death penalty and even possession of ‘soft’ drugs can lead to four years in prison.
According to Radha Stirling, founder and CEO of pressure group Detained in Dubai, forced and coerced confessions are commonplace in Dubai, with police also requiring little evidence to secure a conviction.
However, she explains that Hood’s case is “extreme”. While a conviction for the possession of CBD oil would usually not exceed 2 years in prison, a 25-year sentence was passed on the basis that Hood had trafficked the product with the intent to sell – a point that has only been ‘proven’ through the forced signing of a fake confession.
While cannabis laws are continuing to be loosened in much of the world – with a record number of countries considering the regulated legalisation of the drug – this case is a reminder that cannabis remains tightly controlled in other parts of the world.
The scary thing is that places like the United Arab Emirates show no signs of loosening their extremely strict policy on cannabis – even for products, like CBD, that can’t get you ‘high’.
Mr Hood’s family have set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for legal fees. So far, they have managed to raise £15,000 for the defence, yet Mr Hood’s future is far from certain.