Khat is a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as a “drug of abuse” that can produce “mild to moderate psychological addiction” but less so than alcohol or tobacco. Khat chewing is a social custom that has gone on for thousands of years in the regions where it is grown, and no problems were ever identified. But because it can cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria, it has become a “problem drug” that is being made illegal in the so-called “developed” world. The plant has been targeted by anti-drug organizations such as the DEA and is already a controlled substance in some countries, such as the United States, Canada and Germany.
Because khat was being looked at so hardly, the British government commissioned an investigation by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. After a review of the evidence, the expert committee recommended in January 2006 that khat should remain legal. But the Conservatives weren’t happy with that. On 3 July 2013, the British Home Secretary Theresa May announced that khat was to be banned, designating it a Class C substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Accordingly, the Frank drug advice site says:
Khat and the law
Khat will shortly become a Class C drug which means it will be illegal. If you are caught with the drug (possession) you could go to prison for two years and get an unlimited fine. If you are caught dealing or supplying (and that could just mean giving some to your mates) you could get 14 years in jail. It will also be an offence to bring Khat in and/or out of the country, so if you’ve been abroad you cannot bring it back to the UK with you.
Khat is an illegal substance in many other countries like the US and taking khat into the US could attract a heavy prison sentence.
So, Khat is pretty harmless, its use has gone on for thousands of years… and the UK government is banning it anyway. Why?
Because its use is fun! British (and many other) governments love to ban drugs that have a side-effect of euphoria. Look here for the proof! The British government (amongst many others) hate the idea of us enjoying ourselves. Alcohol, tobacco, refined sugar, and caffeine would be illegal if they didn’t have such a long tradition.
Unfortunately, voting for a different party won’t make much difference. The Lib Dems claim to want drugs to be decriminalised and the market regulated, but I think we all know by now that they are a bunch of liars. Maybe the Pirate Party UK would do something positive if they ever got the chance… but I can’t see them getting into government any time soon.
I hate hate. The government hates fun. So I hate the government. If you like fun, maybe you should start hating the government too?