The wrong side of the law: Grooverider imprisoned for four years

Words by: T-T
Posted: 19/2/08 18:51

Debate has roared all year long in Ibiza as the government has doled out strict treatment to clubs and clubbers, largely because of illegal drugs. But spare a thought for drum 'n' bass legend Grooverider who has just been sentenced to an astonishing four years in jail, in Dubai, for breaking the Arab country's hyper-strict drugs laws.

Grooverider admitted in court to possession of a fraction over 2g of cannabis in his pocket. Unfortunately for the DJ and Radio 1 presenter the minimum sentence in Dubai is four years for simple possession. And it doesn't matter that it was just 2g - Dubai imprisoned one woman for four years who had just half a gram of hash.

Yes, Grooverider (or anyone) should know better than to walk through an airport carrying drugs - the law is the law. But given the circumstances the draconian application of the letter of the law is astonishing to those of us accustomed to Europe's more moderate approach to drugs law enforcement. Frankly, it's hard to see Dubai's policies as anything except punitive.

Grooverider clearly was not intending to distribute the drugs, nor did he pose any threat to anyone's health and safety. A fine or suspended sentence would have made their point. Why pay to feed, house and clothe someone in jail for four years when you could just as easily make them pay a penalty then send them home?

Some will rightly point out that harsh laws provide a powerful deterrent. Which is true: this story deters me from ever wanting to go to Dubai, full stop. Not because I want to take drugs; or because I would ever dream of being foolish enough to break the laws of a country I was visiting, but because I don't wish to spend my time or money in a place that clearly operates outside the realm of common sense.

Essentially, Grooverider is being sent to jail for four years not for doing anyone any harm but for being careless enough to get caught. It certainly sets an example of strong government control - but not a good one. This makes me doubly grateful for Ibiza's tolerance and hedonistic spirit… hopefully that will never change.


Roberto Capuano
Politics Of Dancing
Ralph Lawson