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United Kingdom to ban khat

Posted on July 10th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

khatThe herbal stimulant khat is to be banned by the British government—against the advice of its own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. In January the ACMD said khat should remain a legal substance, finding "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems. But Home Secretary Theresa May announced her decision to ban it last week, saying the risks posed could have been underestimated. Khat will be treated as a class C drug, along with anabolic steroids and ketamine. The Home Office said the ban was intended to "protect vulnerable members of our communities." 

Khat is already banned in most of Europe and in a number of other countries, including the US and Canada. The UK's decision to follow suit is based on security and international considerations—especially concerns that Britain could be used as a transit route for khat to other European countries. "Failure to take decisive action and change the UK's legislative position on khat would place the UK at a serious risk of becoming a single, regional hub for the illegal onward trafficking," May said in a statement.

But activists dissented from the government's decision to reject the advisory council's advice. "A more proportionate alternative to banning khat and criminalizing its use would have been an import ban or making it a supply offense only as applies, for example, to controlled anabolic steroids," said Martin Barnes from group Drugscope. '

The Home Office commissioned the review by the ACMD, which reported its results in January, finding khat produces a "mild stimulant effect much less potent than stimulant drugs, such as amphetamine." The ACMD found "no evidence" khat—a leaf cultivated in the Horn of Africa and Arabian peninsula, containing the stimulant cathinone—is directly linked with serious or organized crime.

But the Home Office said July 3 that it was concerned the ACMD had underestimated the risk to communities posed by the leaf. Somali groups in the UK had told the ACMD that use of khat was a "significant social problem" and said it caused medical issues and family breakdowns.

The Home Office said police officers would be able to use their discretion when dealing with low-level possession offenses, as the currently do for small quantities of cannabis. (BBC, July 3)

Photo by Eesti

 

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