CBD is legal in the United Kingdom and all of the United States so long as it contains no more than 0.2% THC in the first case and 0.3% in the second. Even that’s too much for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where a British gentleman has been sent to prison for 25 years for possessing four bottles of CBD oil discovered in his car’s boot.

Dubai. Photo: nelson ebelt

Dubai. Photo: nelson ebelt

24-year-old football coach Billy Hood, who resided in Notting Hill, was convicted of possessing, trafficking and selling drugs. The trafficking was down to the CBD oil having been purchased in the United Kingdom and brought to the UAE. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) stated that it was “giving consular support to a British man who has been imprisoned in the UAE.”

Hood claimed he was unaware that he had CBD oil in his car, believing it to have been left by a friend from the United Kingdom who paid him a visit two weeks before. He told of how police approached him outside his home in the UAE on January 21 2021, not long after he moved there. They asked to search his home and car for drugs. He professed himself “shocked, scared and confused”, unaware that he had any drugs. He spent 14 days in an isolation cell. Horror of horrors, he was “without hygiene products.”

Hood played football semi-professionally for Kensington and Ealing Borough FC and asserted that he has a “zero tolerance” approach to drugs. He bewailed that it was “very upsetting” to find himself accused of selling drugs in a nation whose values he agrees with, more so because “it affects my future.”

Hood’s family is working with the pressure group Detained in Dubai and local lawyers to appeal against his convictions. A GoFundMe page has been set up to fund the venture. It has currently raised over £18,000 of its £20,000 goal.

Hood’s mother, Breda, who is 55 years old and a teaching assistant, remarked that she had suffered “the worst stress I have ever been through” over the last nine months and has “hidden myself away, crying and crying when I imagine what our sweet boy is going through.” She added that her son has “always been such a good boy” who “helps out children, coaches and volunteers.” She insisted that he has “never been into drugs, ever” and “does not deserve to lose his whole life” on account of CBD oil he didn’t even own. She described herself as “disappointed” by the dearth of FCO assistance.

Radhe Stirling, Detained in Dubai’s chief executive, spoke of recent convictions for possession of poppy seeds, which contain opium alkoloids, and cannabis for medical purposes. It’s possible to fail a drugs test months after consuming cannabis. She cautioned that people should be particularly careful, but even that might not be sufficient due to the desire of police for a conviction even if the victim has done nothing wrong: “coerced confessions are commonplace.”

Hood alleges that this is what happened to him: he was pressured to put his signature to a confession written in Arabic, a language he doesn’t speak.

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