By: Mo Ali/ Medeshi
Somalilandsun – Official notification from the Home Office informs that that Khat will become a controlled Class C drug on 24 June 2014.
The ban will be enforced through procedures that have already been laid down on the ground including regular policing and enforcement of the import ban at all points of entry such as Heathrow airport which is the largest hub.
UK Houses Lords passed the legislation banning the use of Khat on May 12 2014. This includes import and trade of Khat in the United Kingdom.
Khat is grown in East Africa and Yemen and is imported to the UK mainly through Heathrow airport. Many communities from East Africa and Yemen that had earlier settled in the UK use khat . Somalis are among the largest communities that use khat in the UK.
“Khat is a stimulant drug with effects similar to amphetamine.Chewing it makes people feel more alert and talkative and suppresses the appetite, though users describe an ensuing calming effect when used over a few hours. Regular use may lead to insomnia (inability to sleep), anorexia and anxiety. In some cases it may make people feel more irritable and angry and possibly violent. Psychological dependence can result from regular use so that users feel depressed and low unless they keep taking it. “Drug Scope
From June 24 2014 , Khat will be controlled as a Class C Drug in UK . This change will have implications for the users or the suppliers.
A person found in possession of Khat for personal use will be liable to arrest when the ban becomes into effect. The penalty could be up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both, according to the police. Persons who supply or import Khat after the ban will be liable to arrest . The penalty could be up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both. A person convicted of supplying or importing khat will generally receive custodial sentence.
The local authorities will make medical provision to help persons who are heavy khat users in advance of prescription if they come forward. Treatment and recovery Services will be in provided.
Khat has destroyed the lives of many Somalis in Britain . In addition to mental and dental health problems, it is the major cause of family break-downs among the Somali communities. Visit No 15 Mafresh at Southall next to the train station. It is open 24 hours a day , seven days a week. Addicts sleep there in shifts. Some even use cars parked in-front of the Mafresh as their sleeping places. Other cities and towns in UK have the same style Mafreshes as No 15.
Read also : Khat fact sheet for England and Wales