Why is the UK government making khat illegal?

05/10/2013

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?

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Governments hate fun… and any questioning of the status quo

08/06/2013

When e-cigarettes came out, many hailed them as the solution to getting die-hard tobacco smokers off the evil weed (tobacco, not the other “evil” weed…). After all, it isn’t the nicotine in tobacco that kills smokers, it’s the assorted poisonous ingredients like arsenic, formaldehyde, nickel cadmium… I could go on, but there’s no point really. Suffice to say, the only “harmful” effect of nicotine is its addictiveness. The stuff that gives you cancers, heart problems and the rest of it is the other stuff in the tobacco.

So, the e-cigs are the solution, right? The ingredients of an e-cig are basically nicotine, water, and a touch of propylene glycol, (which helps vaporise the liquid nicotine). So, the e-cig provides the “ritual” of smoking (the cigarette prop, the inhalation and exhalation, and the nicotine) but none of the tars and other poisons that kill smokers – all good, right?

Well actually, no it’s not all good, according to the British Medical Association and associated OORDs* The BMA squeals that there have not been enough “rigorous, peer-reviewed studies”. French bodies are actually considering a ban on e-cig use in public places, even though there are no so-called “passive smoking” dangers. And there are even illogical claims that e-cigs might be a “gateway drug” which would lead youngsters on to try “the real thing”!

I believe that e-cigs are a wonderful invention and probably the solution to the tobacco problem. Occasionally I even imagine a future in which tobacco is banned and e-cig “vaping” (ie inhaling nicotine vapour) has taken its place. But too many ignorant puritans are opposed to that. Nicotine is enjoyable and addictive, therefore it’s evil and should be banned in spite of its general harmlessness. It’s like how the government “temporarily” bans “legal highs” like “Benzo Fury” and “NBOMe” while it looks for an excuse to make the ban permanent. They say this is done for the sake of public health, but that’s a lie. The authorities don’t want us to enjoy ourselves. They let us get pissed, but make sure we pay for it – through exorbitant taxation and hangovers. Equally, the government taxes tobacco to the hilt, hence the ridiculous price-tag on a pack of cigarettes. But if vaping became more popular, it could drop in price dramatically.

I would encourage cigarette smokers to give e-cigs a try-out (I’ve tried the disposable nicolites and they’re not bad – a bit of an aftertaste, but they’re cheaper than their tobacco rivals, and if the market increases as projected the price could fall even more) – while you obviously have to take any manufacturers’ claims with a pinch of salt, it’s clear e-cigs are nowhere near as toxic as regular cigarettes, and they pose absolutely no threat to other people – so the idea of banning vaping in public places is illogical to anyone except a puritan.

Please, please, PLEASE – check out both sides of the argument before you make a judgement on this. And if you’re a non-smoker, ask yourself: if these e-cigs pose me no dangers, and they don’t pose real danger to the user, why would I want them banned? This arguments is about more than e-cigs: it’s about the freedom to do what you like to your own body. You might not like tattoos or body piercing – does that mean we should make tattoos and nipple-rings illegal? Please, give this some serious, genuine thought. If someone’s vaping in a train station, posing no danger to you and yours. is it fair to make it a crime?

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