Somalilandsun – Australian Government has advised to Somaliland Community that they have restricted and changed to allow khat to be imported for personal use in Australia”
A scheme has been in place since 1997 to grant licences allowing individuals to import khat for personal use. This is currently administered by the Office of Chemical Safety and Environmental Health (OCSEH). However, before a licence to import khat is granted, a person must first obtain a permit from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), otherwise called an ‘AQIS Import Permit’, as khat is a plant material. The application must include details of the exporter and importer. According to AQIS, only khat leaf tips are allowed to be imported and therefore any plants that are capable of being propagated are not permitted (AQIS 2010). Pursuant to a licence there are no restrictions on whether fresh or dried khat can be imported; the upper limit of 5 kg for importation remains the same.
Once an AQIS Import Permit is obtained, a person can then apply for a khat import licence from the OCSEH. Individuals can apply for a one-off licence of up to 5 kg of khat or, alternatively, for a yearly licence allowing importation of 5 kg a month for personal use. 2 While the application form states that it is for an ‘Application for a licence/Permit to import khat (personal use only)’, no sections on the form require applicants to declare that the khat imported will be consumed by the applicant only and not sold or provided to other persons. The 5 kg importation for personal use amount is quite high; especially considering that most khat imported into Australia is dried. To import fresh khat the importer engages a customs broker at a cost (Rees 2010). The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (Cth) state that it is illegal to import a quantity of drug exceeding that specified by the ‘permission to import the drug’ regulation (the ‘permission’ is presumably the licence or permit granted by the OCSEH).3
Each week in 2009, there were on average 43 clearances of 5 kg shipments of khat through the Melbourne airport via the postal and air cargo streams, an average of 215 kg a week. The amount of khat being imported into Australia appears to be increasing. In 1997, 70 kg were imported, while in 2008, 2,130 kg were imported (House of Representatives 2008).
Consistent with existing regulations set out in the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956,Australian Government,the Department of Health cannot issue permits to import khat for personal use any longer.
The importation of khat without a permit is prohibited under Regulation 5 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulation 1956. If you attempt to import khat without a permit you may be subject to fines or prosecution action.
The Department will notify all current license holders by letter and provide the Law and the restrictions on khat in Australia.
Your Doctor can provide you with advice on available support services in your area.
ABDI STADE ELMI
SOMALILAND COMMUNITY OF AUSTRALIA