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Dubai: Cases involving people caught vaping with marijuana oil in Dubai have registered an alarming year-on-year increase with two people arrested in the first quarter of last year and 97 in the first quarter of 2019, a Dubai Police official said on Monday.

Brigadier Eid Thani Hareb, director of the Anti-Narcotics Department, told a gathering of law enforcement officials at the 14th Hemaya International Forum and Exhibition, in Madinat Jumeirah on Monday, that marijuana oil usage was on the increase. “marijuana oil or cannabidiol, known as CBD, is spreading in the first quarter of 2019,” he said. “It can be used through vaping devices and we have witnessed a huge increase in the number of people being arrested this year in comparison to last.”

On the sidelines of the forum, Hareb told Gulf News that 97 were caught in the first quarter of this year compared to just two in the same period last year. He said most of the offenders were caught smuggling the oil by Dubai Customs.

Protecting our children from drug addiction is a responsibility between the family and the schools. We focus on precaution methods.

- Brigadier Eid Thani Hareb, Anti-Narcotics department

“It is a big number as we arrested two people carrying (CBD) in the first quarter of 2018,” he said. “During the first quarter of 2019, we arrested 97 people carrying marijuana oil. It’s a big increase,” he added.

Hareb said most of the offenders were non-Emirati visitors, but he didn’t reveal how many of the 97 were smugglers.

He also urged parents to stop their children smoking e-cigarettes, adding that use from a young age would lead to addiction.

Meanwhile, Marwan Ahmad Al Sawaleh, under-secretary of the Ministry of Education for Academic Affairs, said that there is a monitoring mechanism in schools to protect students from negative influences.

“Protecting our children from drug addiction is a responsibility between the family and the schools,” said Al Sawaleh. “We focus on precaution methods in cooperation with concerned authorities. We train school’s staff on how to identify the signs of addiction between students and how to deal with it,” he added.

$300m

estimated value of illicit online drug trade in Europe alone annually

At the end of the forum, participants suggested inviting concerned authorities from across the Arab world to observe and identify the impact and effects films and social media had on society when it came to drugs and illegal substances.

The forum also urged concerned authorities to develop educational and academic curricula in schools and universities to tackle narcotic and psychotropic drug use in line with technological advancements.

Academic institutions were called upon to upgrade and introduce scientific subjects that highlight and discuss the issue, while monitoring the constant developments to this subject.

Working to improve smart applications and electronic programmes to enhance their roles in the prevention of drugs was also suggested based on research and with the approval of concerned authorities.

Another suggestion was calling upon researchers to study the effect digital currencies were having on the drug trade.

“The world is changing as new technologies arrive every day,” said Oleksiy Feshchenko, Anti-Money Laundering Advisor in the Global Programme against Money Laundering (UNODC GPML). “Criminal networks are using new technologies to thrive. In order to make several million dollars per month, a drug dealer only needs to access the internet, the TOR browser, a bitcoin wallet and postal services.

“For any success in encountering such crimes, law enforcement agencies need the knowledge and tools to combat drug trafficking at this level.”

According to the 2018 World Drug Report, in Europe alone, the annual volume of the illicit online drug trade was estimated to be worth around $300 million.

What is vaping?

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The act of inhaling vapour produced by an e-cigarette or vape pen. A battery heats up a heating component which turns the contents of an e-liquid into aerosol, which is often mistaken for water vapour, but actually contains fine particles. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals linked to cancer, respiratory or heart disease. As well as various flavours of e-liquids, illegal cannabis oil can also be inserted. When these products first entered the market in the late 2000s there was some suggestion that they were better for you than regular cigarettes but health advocates now warn of growing evidence pointing to risks, especially to young people, that far outweighs benefits.

Source: centeronaddiction.org