I Was Arrested In Dubai For Two Cannabis Seeds

I was arrested at Dubai International Airport for possessing two seeds of cannabis in my bag. I really did not know they were there and it wasn’t even my bag. I spent the next three months in jail awaiting trial. It must be told, all in the desert is not gold.

I met a lot of people while ‘inside’ with confused looks on their faces, wondering why they had been locked up, some for trace amounts of cannabis in their blood, others for prescribed medicine. Some of these people are still in central prison. If Dubai wants to become the tourist mecca of the world, it might have to adjust its religious policies.

In my homeland South Africa, I had been stabbed twice, shot at, nearly killed in a bomb blast, had five cars stolen and rescued two rape victims. It soon dawned on me that perhaps this might not be the best place to raise a family. I decided to relocate my family to the Middle East.

I had been in Dubai for two years when I was offered a part time job in the Congo. The gig entailed rigging work for the launch of a new mobile service for the Sheik of Abu Dhabi. I was working as a production manager at the time and being well paid, but the 15,000 dirham for 10 days work was too juicy a deal to pass up. With a smile in my eye, I made the travel arrangements. Looking back, I wish I had never heard of the Congo.

I made my way to the Congo, stopped in Addis Ababa for a beer and then Brazzaville where I toiled in the African sun. The show was a huge success, a lot of back patting followed, as did a party for the crew. A few joints were swung around, weed being as prevalent in central Africa as money is in the Vatican. I did suck on a few sweaty hand rolls, and, unfortunately, unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale.

I should at this juncture point out that I have asthma, and do not smoke tobacco, least of all marijuana, and the one and only time I did previously breathe in the drug, was in high school when Leann Liebenberg promised to French me if I smoked some. I wasn’t kissed, but did have an asthma attack.

On the day of departure one of the riggers gave me his left over weed. I stuck the rolled paper envelope into my bag’s side pocket and waited for my bus. When we got to the airport in Brazzaville I threw the plant away and cleaned out my bag, or so I thought. I still had a hangover from the party the night before and should have been more thorough. Too little, too late.

When I arrived in Dubai, I cleared all the X-rays and customs points and fetched my bag. As I was making my way to the exit, a short round chap in Arabic dress asked if he could look at my genitals. Slightly taken aback, I nervously agreed. He suggested I follow him to a room, where he closed the door behind him and I dropped my pants.

He asked me to lift my business and gave the space beneath a thorough inspection, perhaps looking for fleas. Apparently satisfied, he requested I turn around, bend over and spread the proverbial cheeks. My wife says I think the sun shines out my backside, and evidently, this gentleman wanted to see if it was true.

By the look on his face it wasn’t, and he then told me to pull up my pants and follow him outside. We went to a row of tables and he began rummaging around in my bag.

To the left of me was an Australian I had worked with and to the right a few police officers. Most likely due to the beers I had on the plane I still was not bothered, even after the my lewd exhibition.

Next thing I know the customs man lets out a yell and holds a speck in the air like a prospector finding gold. He carefully placed what turned out to be a seed on the table and proceeded to dig all the gunk out the grooves at the bottom of the bag. (I was rather embarrassed at the filth he managed to scratch out.) After scraping out a tablespoon of hair and grit, he sifted through the debris and, lo and behold, he found another seed. I was just as amazed as he was.

At same time, at the table next to me, they found a freshly rolled joint in the Aussie’s wallet. He had a silly look on his face, and was mumbling that someone planted it there to frame him. We were then taken to an office, where we met a Bosnian, an English boy and some Pakistanis.

After a couple of hours, we were cuffed and hustled unceremoniously into a waiting van that had a steel mesh cage in the back. The police were mostly pleasant and constantly reassured us that we would be on our way home in a few hours and not to panic.

The other prisoners seemed rather relaxed, and only the Bosnian looked a tad shell-shocked. You can see the fellows in the video, including myself, seem to think it a very funny situation.

We were 100% sure we would be sent home in a few hours or, at the least, on the next plane.

We were taken to the central investigations department, where we were locked in a cell and taken out one by one to weigh our contraband. The two tiny seeds were placed in a tiny plastic bag and that was placed on a scale. The weight came to 0.44 grams. After the weigh in, the cuffs were put back on and it was back in the van.

We were taken to some labs, where a kindly gentleman asked us to urinate in a glass for him and if we minded him sticking a sharp needle in our arms to take some precious blood. I said that I did mind, not knowing where the needles been and all that. The kindly fellow said it was not a problem, which I thought most considerate. We were then herded down some passages to interrogation rooms, where another nice man asked all sorts of questions.

“Are you drug smuggler? A drug addict?”

“Why do you smuggle drugs in Arabia?!”…and so on. I obviously denied everything, and the man nodded sagely, reassuring me again that I would be going home soon. I smiled. He smiled. His assistant smiled. There was a lot of smiling going on when he slid a piece of paper over and asked me to sign. It was in Arabic, but I figured with all the smiling going on there was no harm intended. Besides I was going home soon. What a load of horse shit.

I signed and shuffled in my cuffs back to the van and all of us smiled at each other. Somewhere along the line we had been fingerprinted.

Therefore, it was with blue fingers, dumb grins on our faces and steel cuffs around our wrists we were taken back to the airport and led to departures. We garnered a lot of stares, but I didn’t care, so long as I was leaving.

As we neared the gates, we made a sudden turn through some swinging doors and were led down some passages. We were under the impression that we might be going down some back route to the planes. Silly how the mind works, really, constantly convincing ourselves we were not going to jail. Even after the policemen signed in our bags and suggested we take out a toothbrush, I still thought I was going to be on the next plane home.

We were placed in another cell and taken out one by one. The daft smile was finally starting to fade, as we slowly started to expect that something was up. My turn came, and I followed a guard through some iron bars with gates in them, and huge iron locks in gates, with huge keys in locks. I started to feel sick. The last set of doors were steel plated with eye holes, and I was pushed through those and the door shut behind me. The last sound I heard was the lock clanging behind me. I then realized I was not going home any time soon. I was definitely not smiling now.

The place I was locked in is called the Dubai Deportation Centre. That’s a swanky sounding name and a misnomer if ever there was one. It was jail. In all the time I was there, no person was deported from there.

You were transferred to central prison, which was a damn site better, or taken to the CID cells and deported from there.

Once inside you have to fend for yourself. Because of all the different nationalities locked up there, the groups or gangs are made up of countrymen, Italians with Italians, Iranians with Iranians, Russians with Russians, and so on. I was the only South African there and was bang out of luck. Although, it turned out that a chap I knew had been arrested the day before, so he arranged for me to hang out with the Italians. A poor fellow had been arrested for Codeine, had taken a muscle relaxant for his back when he was in Prague.

I was placed in a cell for eight, but had 12 in it. There is no TV, no library and no gym. There are no windows and the yard is a small cement facility covered with layers of wire mesh and iron bars. The outside world is a mystery, except for the planes taking off overhead. The food was terrible, but we were fed three times a day. Except for counts, the guards generally left you to your business. I am a boxer, so violence was not too much of a problem. Sodomy was rare. I explain more details in my book.

I went to court three times and had no idea what was going on. I was told I would be getting four years, which is the mandatory sentence, no matter the amount of drugs. After two months, a fellow inmate translated my booking sheet, and it turned out that I was being held for 0.04 grams of cannabis…less than a few grains of salt.

The crimes of the people I was incarcerated with ranged from attempted murder and rape to smuggling 70 kilos of heroin. The majority though were people arrested for less then 1 gram of hash. Many people were arrested for subscription medicines, one being a 70-year-old woman. We had a lot of honeymooners locked up with us, the groom in the male section and the bride in the ladies section, with lots of tears in between. All because they did not declare cough mixture.

I lost my house, car, job and my sense of humor for 0.04 grams of vegetation. I understand zero tolerance, but the sentence was a bit harsh. The side effects of are tragic. Families break up, children suffer tremendous stress, and many lives are ruined through bankruptcy because the breadwinner is locked up.

I did not intentionally smuggle two seeds into Dubai. I had been given a hard kick in the nuts for being ignorant.

You can’t turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing how grand Dubai is, but the reality is a laughing tourist needs to be careful not to kiss in public, take flu medicine or a sneaky joint on the beach. Unfortunately, starry-eyed individuals are flocking there and being locked up because they had porn on their laptop. Not so starry-eyed any more. Kiss mine Dubai.

Watch video related to this story.

– Article from Orato.



  1. Pingback: Dubai Cannabis Laws « HempNEWS TV

  2. Anonymous on

    there are a couple of things in this story that dont add up. why would any body sign somthing wrote in arabic?you could of signed ya hands away. an its rediculous how no mention of solicitors were involved thats basicaly kidnap.especially the guy with traces found in his blood

  3. Anonymous on

    your talking about fucking treason to legalize marijuana!!!! that is the most retarded fucking statement i have ever heard. Congratulations there are prob. 20 people willing to stand up for what you believe. We need to legalize cannabis by getting it into the public light through mass media. You can easily convince alot of ignorant Americans that pot should be legal through ad campaigns.

  4. Anonymous on

    Perhaps we can realize that the system as it stands right now is broken and needs to be re-evaluated? Prohibition does not work, that has been proven for alcohol and is still being proved year after year with ever-increasing profits and usage of weed and other drugs every year. Tax it, regulate it, control it, don’t ban it.

  5. Anonymous on

    and thats why nothing gets solved.
    because there is no problem right? those damn weed smokers cause all the trouble

    you’re a fool

  6. anonymous on

    Astounds me.

    End the war on drugs—-> stop using them.

    Do something that does something.

    You know why that doesn’t work, half of you are to busy jerking yourselves off to look anyone in the eye.

    Yes I do feel better than you.

  7. tiny tim on

    ****** Chew a couple sticks of gum….roll up about 6 or more seeds inside the chewed gum so you cant see them…..and there you go leave in mouth till your flights over—- nobody will know….(i work for the air lines)

  8. Anonymous on

    That point is moot, considering you can’t grow hemp until marijuana is decriminalized. It doesn’t refute his/her original statement.

  9. Anonymous on

    thats pretty much better than anything i feel inclined to say to the piece of sh*t you’re talking about.

    well done

  10. Anonymous on

    do some research. hemp is not marijuana.

  11. Anonymous on

    AZ does not have lenient marijuana laws at all. Possession of any amount of marijuana is a felony.

  12. Anonymous on

    I’m not sure if it can cure religious differences, except maybe for making people a little more indifferent and open, but I am damn sure it can cure world hunger. It is a solid basis for many nutritional needs, whether active or not. It can even solve the whole fossil fuel dilemma as it can be used as an extremely efficient and organic alternative fuel. Growing hemp also enriches soil, unlike most crops which deplete nutrients and need to be rotated.

    the “Jackass” was unnecessary. Do a little research first, you may be surprised.

  13. You're a moron on

    Really, the answer to all problems? What about religious differences and world hunger? Yeah, didn’t think so, jackass.

  14. Anonymous on


  15. Anonymous on

    Goes to show how religion is such a great idea.. What a joke.. Those people need to start using reason not some story there opium smoking ancestors made up.

  16. Anonymous on

    seriously? that’s fucking ridiculous. he isn’t even into smoking, he was just being social with the people he was around. he wasn’t the one TRYING to take stuff to a different country, and he tried to get rid of it. stop being such an ass. i agree with the other person, i hope they ship you off and you can get ass raped…

    however, with that comment, you’d probably enjoy it.

  17. Anonymous on

    You need a government registered letter..don’t quote me on this..but if you want to be bad you pay the government and they look the other way.
    How do you think Dubai was created so quickly? Duh!

    As a person who supposedly lives in a free country. We all know, once the police/government is involved… your screwed… which is too bad. 🙁

    P.S If you have read this far. I am impressed.

  18. ORLLY? on

    Your story makes no sense. You talk about leases, sublet, utilities and then complain about the police not finding what they were looking for… I don;t know. Maybe you should up your medications to what 20 average americans would take, buddy.
    You are either a troll or there is WAY more to this story.
    I hate having to deal with people like you who are always a victim, no matter how much of an irresponsible ass you are. You are the standard of why americans are hated abroad.

  19. ORLLY? on

    Your story makes no sense. You talk about leases, sublet, utilities and then complain about the police not finding what they were looking for… I don;t know. Maybe you should up your medications to what 20 average americans would take, buddy.
    You are either a troll or there is WAY more to this story.
    I hate having to deal with people like you who are always a victim, no matter how much of an irresponsible ass you are. You are the standard of why americans are hated abroad.

  20. Anonymous on

    Dubais laws are bullshit.
    i knew a guy who got away with murder because he knew the ruler’s son.
    fuck that shit.

  21. Anonymous on

    wow thats fail if your somehow referring to child abortion fuck off… so fuckin epic fail..

  22. Anonymous on

    Dubai isn’t even that great a place, there’s many other places I’d rather go on holiday to for better value, regardless of drug laws.

  23. Anonymous on

    what the hell

    all that for 2 seeds

    SEEDS o my god i really cant believe this lol

  24. Dan on

    But if EVERYONE kept two seeds in their bags, then there would be none left to plant. Wouldn’t that actually help reduce marijuana use? Saracasm! Just like I cannot believe much of this person’s story. You moved to the middle east to be safer? Really? And then life is so good there that you have to travel thousands of miles to take a PART TIME job in the Congo? Quite a high achieving family man aye? Funny all the serious comments though about an obviously bull shit story. If it smells like shit, it probably is. If it smells like weed, hope its good shit.

  25. Anonymous on

    I wonder, do they execute children in Dubai like they do in the states?

  26. Anonymous on

    they have the oil. so fuck everybody.

  27. Anonymous on

    you guys gotta check out a documentary about the same situation but worse. Its called “The Ganja Queen”. Its fuckin ridiculous how shit is dealt with in Dubai. And whoever did the last comment is probably a depressed little fuck who beats his own kids when he gets stressed out instead of smoking a small joint to calm himself. With that attitude in life buddy, good luck and go fuck yourself.

    P.S. your mom shoulda swallowed you 🙂

  28. Anonymous on

    you guys gotta check out a documentary about the same situation but worse. Its called “The Ganja Queen”. Its fuckin ridiculous how shit is dealt with in Dubai. And whoever did the last comment is probably a depressed little fuck who beats his own kids when he gets stressed out instead of smoking a small joint to calm himself. With that attitude in life buddy, good luck and go fuck yourself.

    “your mom shoulda swallowed you”

  29. Anonymous on

    “In my homeland South Africa, I had been stabbed twice, shot at, nearly killed in a bomb blast, had five cars stolen and rescued two rape victims. It soon dawned on me that perhaps this might not be the best place to raise a family. I decided to relocate my family to the Middle East.”

    hmmm now how much sense does that statement make? you want to move from a dangerous place, to a place where theres 2 major wars going on and countless civil and tribal wars, and you expect to be safer? and furthermore, what kind of retard travels with someone elses bag? thats like rule one of air travel. you dumbass potheads are all the same and deserve whatever jail time, if not more, than whatever your sentenced. do us all a favor and kill yourselves. thanks a bunch.

  30. Anonymous on

    you were not getting tortured if you didn`t sign. You only spent there a few more weeks as I did – just because not signing. After three weeks I happily signed the same papers (written in arabic). And I felt lucky to be actually let go after 67 days. Not signing, seeking any form of legal representation or publicity was a straight road to jail, for four years, with a possibility to be pardoned.

  31. Anonymous on

    The justice system in most of the middle east is ridiculous. Duh. Everyone knows that. I find it absolutely incredible that someone in that position would sign anything they didn’t read first. I simply don’t believe the whole story because that is a give away. You would have to torture me before I signed anything written in a foreign language. If this story is true you were for a couple months the biggest moron in Dubai.

  32. Anonymous on

    Serves you right for being such a tool.

    If you are going to a country, respect their laws no matter how stupid you think they are.

    I found the way you wrote this article quite arrogant.

    You are belittling an entire country for your own stupidity.

    I hope you butt was fondled many times in jail.

  33. Anonymouslysomemore on

    [sarcasm]you are what is now know as “collateral damage” in this holy war against the infidel weed smokers[/sarcasm]

    nice rant 🙂

    but try explaining
    never mind explaining , that’s easy

    get people to understand that, just because THEY’ve never been a victim of the bullying that goes on doesn’t mean it exists

    then you’ll be a real champion

  34. Vader on

    I was also locked up in Dubai for 47 days!! I got stopped in the airport, coming from London with 0.02 grams of weed in my pocket. I pent 47 days in the deportation center with about 230 almost all of them were their for the same reason, small amonts of weed or iligal substances.

  35. Cognitively Dissonant on

    Many Americans (like yourself, apparently) don’t realize that our country is only marginally different (from Dubai) where drugs are concerned. I was raided in 2002 by what seemed like a SWAT team only they were wearing ski masks. They had guns, body armor, and badges. My crime was subletting. I was subletting a home and to get utility (electrical) service in my town you need either a lease or a home title, thus the electric service just stayed in the name of my friend, the lease holder, after he found a home to purchase and moved out.

    We thought it was a win-win situation all around. My buddy of 25 years was getting a chance to snag a house with 5 acres without having to break his lease and I and my wife were getting a chance to move out of the house I lived in (a converted garage, it was fine for a bachelor with a dog but not for a couple) and move into a real house without having to come up with a deposit first. Yes, we thought it was a win-win situation all around.

    The local police felt different. When they couldn’t find what they were looking for they ransacked the house, told us all of our aspirin was clearly something else because (as they said), “Every manufacturer of aspirin prints their name on every tablet”, demanded I provide them with child porn or some other type of contraband, tore up the wires in my Jeep, fucked up countless video cards and other computer equipment I had in my file cabinet (I was a tech support and quality control computer technician, so I had a lot of stuff), scratched up the keys of my piano, seized all our medications, confiscated the great majority of my wife’s family photos (all of which were G-rated and harmless), and generally just destroyed our lives.

    So they didn’t kill us and didn’t shoot my (house) dog. Big deal.

    The only way things will get better in our culture is if cops, lawyers, politicians, and judges start getting killed for malfeasance, corruption, and selective law enforcement. Kill the bastards, kill so many that those remaining begin to realize that violence involved with suppressing cannabis far outweighs any perceived benefit of prohibition, just like what happened in Prohibition 80 years ago.

    I realize that Law Enforcement and Organized Crime are highly dependent upon the War on Drugs, but fuck all those sons of bitches. They are destroying our culture and something needs to be done. Start killing the Prohibitionists and the Law & Order politicians who push for tougher penalties and persistently oppose any form of decriminalization. Fuck them all.

    Bear in mind that I might be crazy. Yes, it could be a crazy person writing this. AIDS related dementia may be the condition I’m operating under now. I’ve known I’m positive since 1984, have a prescription to Marinol, and take more pills in a single day than your average 10 Americans combined take in a month. I’ve got an attitude and I won’t deny it. Fuck the pigs and fuck them all to hell.

  36. graff on

    “Sodomy was rare. I explain more details in my book.”

    Way to sell that sh*t brah!

    Glad you’re informing the world tho..f that sh*t ain’t right

  37. CableGUy8984 on

    That’s totally untrue about getting caught in Florida with 2 seeds. I myself and people I know have gotten caught with pounds or more, and still have everything. My uncle got caught growing. And he still has all his stuff!

  38. KingDez Borejszo on

    It’s a pity the video I sent with was not posted here with the article. There are many open mouthed tourists locked up in Dubai, for crimes considered trivial in all parts of the world except the Middle East. Public affection, flipping someone the bird, swearing, being with a woman not your wife, drinking without a licence. Shit man, just looking stupid can get you arrested. I wrote a book about the time I spent locked up with these luckless souls and I will provide a link soon as it’s out. It’s called ‘Shit on the floor, Blood on the walls’. That is if my editor ever makes it back from where ever she is. Lastly, I hear being fucked up the ass only hurts the first time and, does happen in chook, especially to blond haired, blue-eyed tourists. Last lastly I think the Watermelon bird is a real peach.

  39. Anonymous on

    should’ve moved to the USA

  40. evil1dwk on

    At least someone else checked their facts.

  41. SnARFy on

    The ONLY reason Dubai exists is because of America’s strategic need for their location in the Middle East.Dubai, despite being “oil rich”, cannot turn a profit and is operating in the red.The U.$.Dollar is what’s keeping them going so they can dump rocks into the sea to expand their shoreline and to support their absurd need to build some very bizarre and architecturally unsound structures.Hey-FUCK DUBAI and FUCK islam.

  42. Anonymous on

    Florida law states 20 grams or less is considered a misdemeanor punishable with up to 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine. Florida also has a homestead law. Your house cannot be taken from you as long as it is your primary residents and you’ve filed your homestead exemption. That is unless of course your house is used in the commission of a crime (like growing marijuana) or it can be proven that your house was purchased with money made through illegal mean (the sale of marijuana actually funded the purchase of your home).

    Arizona is actually fairly lenient on marijuana. Anything under two pounds of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor punishable with up to 1.5 years in jail and anywhere from a $750 to $150,000 fine.

    As for getting prescriptions filled in Mexico. There really aren’t any governmental regulations on pharmacies in Mexico. So you’re never sure you even got the drug you requested or the measurements requested. Bringing prescription drugs from Mexico into Arizona is considered smuggling if you do not declare the drugs (even with a valid prescription) or you just do not have a valid prescription. So if you are getting prescriptions filled in Mexico make sure your Doctor has written you a prescription and make sure you declare the drugs when a custom agent asks if you have anything to declare. I just don’t recommend getting your prescriptions filled in Mexico.

  43. evil1dwk on

    What are you talking about? Florida law states 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor. You have the possibility for up to 1 year in jail and a $1000 dollar fine. I was stopped with over a half ounce. I wasn’t even detained. I was ticketed and paid a hefty fine and my bag was confiscated but that’s it.

    “going to mexico and picking up a prescription for a rash you got there and come over to AZ you will spend $2500 and possibly walk away with a felony”

    Why the hell would you go to Mexico to pick up a prescription? Unless of course you don’t have an actual prescription. In which case you could be drug smuggling. Sorry but I’ve never gotten a rash while in Mexico either. I spent 12 years in the Los Angeles area of California and spent many a spring break and weekends in Tijuana. But AZ has very lenient marijuana laws. Anything less than 2lbs is considered a misdemeanor. Punishable with anything from 6 months to 1.5 years in prison and anywhere from $750 – $150,000 dollar fine. That’s 2 pounds not 2 seeds.

  44. Anonymous on

    Heh and at least in Dubai you don’t get ass fucked

  45. Anonymous on

    actually try getting busted in Florida with two seeds, the state takes your house, cars, and you spend a little time in jail. going to mexico and picking up a prescription for a rash you got there and come over to AZ you will spend $2500 and possibly walk away with a felony, we americans just know how to get around the laws here just as the locals there know what to do as well, it is all in the eyes of the traveller

  46. Anonymous on

    dat fucking sad

  47. Anonymous American on

    This is a world I will never fully understand. This experience and others like it need to be shared. People from America, like me, don’t understand what the world is truly like outside our little patch of freedom. We must teach about the realities of our world in order to combat such rampant disregard for human liberties. Our world is rarely as beautiful as we would like to believe.

  48. Anonymous on

    Fuck Dubai. That is so ridiculous. I almost think its a joke. Marijuana should be legalized everywhere it is the answer to all the problems.

  49. Strawberry Cough on

    Did you serve the full four years?

  50. Glen Walker on

    That is fucking disgusting. Dubai sounds like a terrible place for human rights. Since when should carrying two seeds involve locking a person up for that amount of time. Its very cruel!

  51. JP on

    The crazy part is that everything illegal is pretty rampant there. Especially escorts, any type or age. And if you somebody or know somebody you can get away with anything. There sex slave market is huge, and most likely I’d say the govt. in Dubai has there hands in it 1 way or another