Yes, you read right. People seeking help to get rid of their addiction from a rehabilitation programme will be exempt from prosecution instead of the previous penalty which was a minimum of four years and a minimum fine of Dhs 10 000 (unless they are profiting from it in which case, "Stahhhp!")
In an interview, Whatson Dubai spoke to Shabaan Metwally, a partner at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem to get more info and clarification on this relatively new law passed which apparently means that drug use is now classified as a misdemeanour offence rather than a felony.
Shaban Metwally stated that Article 43 of the Anti-Narcotics is all encompassing and applies to any nationalities residing in the UAE. It also provides an exemption for those visiting the UAE on business, as a tourist and even those in transit through the UAE. There is an exception to the law and this would be anyone profiting from drugs for example selling, drug traffickers and smugglers would not be able to invoke this law. You can read more about the interview here.
Basically, if an individual comes forward voluntarily to admit their addiction, or a first or second degree family member (parents, spouse or siblings come forward on their behalf and the induvidual with the addiction submits) they will be offered a place in a (maximum) two year rehabilitation programme - most of which will be out-patient treatment.
So if you find yourself or an immediate family member in need of help with addiction you can contact the National Rehabilitation centre, the Police department, the Public Prosecutor, Abu Dhabi Rehabilitation Centre Erada or Priory Wellbeing centre.
This article does not constitute legal advice for unique situations so if you're unsure of the finer details or dont know where to start, contact one of the rehabilitation centres or your legal representative to find out more info about how the law affects you.