Billy Hood – who was imprisoned for 25 years for trafficking, selling and possessing CBD earlier this year in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – has received a reduced sentence of ten years following an appeal.
The Abu Dhabi Courts have accepted that 25-year-old British national Billy Hood did not traffic or sell CBD vape oil that had been left in his car by a friend. Detained in Dubai has stated that the court accepts that he “unintentionally possessed” the CBD, but have sentenced Hood to a decade behind bars, despite new legislation eliminating prison sentences for foreigners found in possession and allowing for deportation instead.
The recent UAE announcement that it will be relaxing drug laws for travellers caught with cannabis products in the country would see the products destroyed instead of imprisoning individuals.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who is lobbying for Hood’s release, commented: “The UAE has just claimed they will eliminate prison sentences for foreigners found to be in possession of THC products, opting for deportation instead, but this law does not come into effect until January 2022 and may not apply retroactively.
“Dubai police were extremely negligent when they charged Billy Hood with trafficking and selling the two mini bottles of CBD vape oil found in his car. They turned what would have been a small possession case at worst into a federal case that has seen him locked up for almost a year and facing a life sentence in Abu Dhabi.
“There was no evidence whatsoever of trafficking and none of selling. Dubai’s overzealous prosecution has ruined this young man’s life and put him and his family through hell. Billy was forced to confess to federal crimes with promises of his imminent release. He was given both a carrot and a stick, so some prosecutor could get his dues. It’s all too familiar a story.”
“It’s very confusing,” Hood’s mother Breda Hood told Detained in Dubai. “How can this have escalated as far as it has? I tried not to get my hopes up for today as I knew something like this might happen, but I now have to face the possibility that I may not see my son before Christmas and words cannot express how broken I am feeling.”
Detained in Dubai stated that Billy’s father Alex Hood has been outraged by the lack of intervention coming from the British government: “The Brits have developed strong ties with the UAE so why aren’t they using their relationship to help people like Billy?
“This should be on the top of their list. Our son is not interested in drugs at all, not consuming, selling or trafficking. It wasn’t his fault at all that his friend left the vape bottles in his car. Why should he be punished for someone else’s actions?
“All of his tests came back negative and there is zero evidence of selling or trafficking. It’s like something out of a movie and I can barely cope with the frustration of not being able to help him. We are campaigning out here but he’s in there completely alone.”
The Foreign Office has submitted a clemency request for Billy’s release and a petition established by the family has attracted almost 160,000 signatures. In a statement to Cannabis Wealth yesterday, a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson said: “We are giving consular support to a British man who has been imprisoned in the UAE. We are in contact with his family in the UK.”
“We pray every day for Billy’s release,” Hood’s brother Alexander told Detained in Dubai. “I spoke with Billy today and he sends lots of love to everyone supporting him. It’s been so hard on him. I can’t plead enough for the UAE to grant him clemency, give him his life back, please. The UAE has just promised to change their laws and we ask his highness to take this into consideration when reviewing our clemency application.”
Stirling highlights that ten years for “unintentional possession” of CBD vape oil is a grave injustice.
In a statement yesterday, Stirling commented: “We need MP’s to push a resolution for Billy’s family. The UAE is increasingly a strong ally to the UK and with that, comes an immense possibility for cooperation on issues of human rights. I will be speaking to Parliamentarians tomorrow and have no doubt Billy’s case will attract significant support.”