Drugs in e-cigarettes, eye drops: Police in UAE raise alarm over new types of deadly narcotics

Synthetic drugs are now replacing conventional ones, officials say, and they can be more dangerous because they are cheaper and up to 100 times stronger

File photo
File photo

Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Sat 4 Mar 2023, 10:46 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Mar 2023, 10:36 PM

Police in the UAE have recently discovered new types of illegal drugs that can pose more serious threats to society — some of which can even cause death.

The authorities in the country have already seen and busted nearly all kinds of drug smuggling methods, from stashing them inside human and animal bodies to packing them in various types of shipments. Now, as traffickers come up with new ways to peddle narcotics, the police are making sure they are two steps ahead.

Currently on the police radar are synthetic drugs. The Sharjah Police have recently found out that there is a type of man-made narcotics that is cheap, easily accessible, and worse, can be deadly.

Col Adel Ahmad Al Mazmi, acting head of the Criminal Laboratory Department of Sharjah Police, told Khaleej Times that these two new types of synthetic cannabis were found hidden inside packaging for cosmetics.


Synthetic cannabis: Why is it more dangerous?

These substances are manufactured in a laboratory and are similar in effect to the active substance in natural cannabis, Col Al Mazmi explained. Authorities are now in the process of including them in the drug tables so that they are criminalised.

He pointed out that certain eye drops that are used to dilate the pupils are also being misused as a substitute for heroin compounds.

Dr Taj Al Sir Abbas Ahmed, chemical expert at Sharjah Forensic Laboratory, confirmed that the two new types of synthetic drugs found by the lab pose a more dangerous threat to society. It can be 80 to 100 times stronger than natural hashish.

“These drugs may cause an illusion among the users for a short time. This timing is risky as they are likely to increase the dose to make the effect last longer, which can cause death,” he added.

Aisha Al Tunaiji, head of the criminal chemistry section in the laboratory, said the recently discovered synthetic cannabinoids and other man-made drugs can cause serious health issues — including high heart rate and blood pressure, red eyes, anxiety and agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, convulsions and memory loss.

Youth at risk

A top official at the Anti-Narcotic Department at Dubai Police said the youth are among those who typically use such synthetic drugs because they are cheap and accessible.

“Youngsters are those who resort to these synthetic drugs, which even include pills that are sold legally in pharmacies with a prescription. Their availability and cheap price make such drugs an easy option compared to others," he said.

In some cases, psychiatric clinics are violating the law by facilitating the use of narcotics. "They ignore professional ethics and provide drugs to youngsters who fall victim to addiction."


The Department of Evidence has also examined 103 e-cigarettes seized in the country and found that 17 of them were used to smoke drugs.

The study showed that mixed drugs, including synthetic cannabis called 'spice' that come in liquid form, were being used by youngsters with e-cigarettes.

"The danger of this trend lies in the fact that e-cigarettes are more socially acceptable than their traditional counterparts. Its users smoke them at commercial centres, homes and even at the workplace as they are considered not harmful and a way to quit smoking,” an official said.

The officer called for more stringent measures to prevent the circulation of e-cigarettes, whether online or through commercial centres.

Raising awareness

The Dubai Police official said parents and schools can help control the spread of synthetic drugs.

"Spreading awareness among students and their parents would reduce the demand, which will also affect the market for the drug dealers," he said, adding that extensive efforts are being made by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and education agencies in the country.

"All anti-narcotic departments in the country are considered an integrated system with strategic objectives. We work as a single entity to deal with drugs and there is great cooperation between us," he stressed.

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