A businessman who legally smoked marijuana at home in the US has been arrested in Dubai after traces of the drug showed up in his system while he was there.
Peter Clark, who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, consumed the drug days before he flew to the United Arab Emirates city on a business trip on February 24.
On his second day of the trip, the 51-year-old fell ill with pancreatitis and was rushed to hospital where doctors took his urine sample to test for drugs.
The medics found residue traces of marijuana and reported to the police who subsequently arrested Clark and sent him to jail.
He was released from his flea-ridden cell days later and told to return to his hotel and await their contact.
In a video posted on YouTube by Detained in Dubai, Clark is seen sitting in a car as he faces the camera.
He explains: “No shower, no food, nothing to drink since I got here. No sleep.”
Over a month later, he is still in Dubai facing years in prison.
Clark added in a statement: “I was absolutely stunned to learn that I was being charged for having residue marijuana in my system.
“I smoked it legally back home, long before I ever even got on the plane.
“I knew about the country’s strict drug laws, but never for a moment did I consider that I could be thrown in prison over something I did in America.
“I tried to explain it to the police and be as cooperative as possible, but I’m just being thrown through the system. The moment I went to hospital, my time in Dubai was ruined, but I didn’t realise that was only the start of the nightmare.”
Radha Sterling, who founded the pressure group Detained in Dubai, has taken up Clark’s case and tried to assist him.
She said: “The UAE’s arbitrary enforcement of laws and lack of predictable legal outcomes means that Peter potentially faces years in prison for legally smoking marijuana.
“Even if found innocent, he can be dragged through a slow and costly legal process.
“We’ve seen foreigners arrested for drugs taken outside of the UAE, specs of almost undetectable marijuana ‘dust’ at the bottom of belongings, a poppyseed from a bread roll consumed at the airport, pharmaceutical and prescription medicine, and even a glass of wine served onboard Emirates airlines.
“Arresting someone for smoking marijuana in their own country, weeks before they even entered the UAE, is unfairly persecuting tourists who have behaved well within Dubai itself. The US State department needs to revise travel warnings to Americans who could end up arbitrarily detained.”