Qat stays out of opium law

THE HAGUE - The softdrug Qat will not fall under the opium law. That is what minister of Justice Donner replied to question by MP Joldersma. Several cities where qat had caused problems had asked for a ban of the drug.

The minister believes that the health risks related to the use of qat are limited. 'The drug is hardly addictive, there is no tolerance build-up and medical emergencies never occur.'

Donner said that he did not find it necessary to let qat fall under the opium law in order to allow cities to tackle the problems related to its use. Local legislation already allows mayors to close down drugs buildings and to arrest people that cause public disturbance, said the minister.

In september 2002 the cities of Tilburg and Rotterdam already asked for qat to be put under the drug law. Selling and using the drug is not illegal, and therefore cities can't do very much against users and dealers. If qat would fall under the opium law, this would be a lot easier.

Qat is mostly used by Somali's. For this reason, problems are limited to cities that have a lot of Somali immigrants (such as Tilburg and Rotterdam). Donner said that cities are free to create spaces where people can use qat freely, so that they are off the street.

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MAP- NL