Chewing Khat in the UK

The UK Home Office is expected to announce within days whether it will ban the traditional use of Khat. The use of Khat would cause havoc in many Somali families and lead to lots of social problems in a few large UK-cities.

The leaves of the Khatplant, Catha Edulis in Latin, have been traditionally chewed for ages by members of the Somali and Yemeni communities. It makes people more relaxed, more talkative and friendlier. Next to that it is said that it improves the quality of sperm. To be short, living becomes a little bit brighter by it.

Unemployment

The misuse of Khat though, destroys a lot of families of Somali immigrants. Because there is a high rate of unemployment within this group of immigrants; Khat is being chewed to forget reality. It is this use that Home Office wants to ban.

Out of a recent survey, wherein nearly 600 members of Britain's Somali community were interviewed, appeared that 49 per cent said they would support a ban on Khat. Especially the Somali women are very supportive – chewing Khat has been culturally reserved to men.

Ban

Labour MP Mike Gapes, a strong proponent for a possible ban, recently invited Home Secretary Charles Clarke to make Khat a controlled substance. Clarke has asked his official drugs advisers, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, to look at whether it should be banned.

Gapes: ‘It used to be chewed mainly by old men but it is now being used by young boys who are in a state of permanent intoxication. There is evidence of serious psychotic consequences from long-term use and also a suggestion that it is carcinogenic.’

Source: BBC News (UK).