Khat Ban A Mistake - Fix It!
Khat Ban A Mistake - Fix It!
This is a petition to reverse the Khat ban gaffe; imposed in the UK on the 24TH of June, 2014.
For all those that support the notion to exercise cultural freedom, democracy and say 'no' to bogus government regulations’, I urge you to help by signing this petition.
Khat is a mild intoxicant traditionally used by Kenyan, Ethiopian, Somali and Yemeni communities for socialising and recreational purposes. It is used to socialise and keep users alert, happy and talkative when chewed. It is a cultural engaging and recreational activity and is now banned as a class C drug despite advice from the UK government's official advisers that it should not be classified.
Baseless Reasons for Ban on Khat and Classification as a Class C 'Drug':
- In a written statement last year, Home Secretary Theresa May said despite the recommendation of the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) not to ban khat, the body acknowledged that there was an absence of robust evidence in a number of areas.
Khat ban still went ahead. We might as well impose a 'guilty until proven innocent' stance across government regulations. It is oblivious of the UK Government not to heed to its own advisory body and reflects nothing short of having double standards.
Begging the question, why have an advisory body then?
"Yet again the government has ignored the advice of its experts and prohibited another drug. As ever, it will serve to create a new income stream for organised crime.
At the same time it will unnecessarily criminalise a minority group of Somalis and Yemenis, and deprive producers overseas of much needed legitimate revenue."
Says Danny Kushlick, Director of Transform Drug Policy Foundation, a charitable think tank campaigning for the legal regulation of drugs.
- Some members of the Somali community previously called for khat to be outlawed claiming khat was solely responsible for effect on people's mental health, segregation from wider community and has caused the break-up of families.
Let’s be frank, there are other social issues within the Somali community, including previous experience or exposure to hardships, violence and civil wars which may cause these social disorders. Khat is simply a scape-goat in this instance, excessive usage and abuse may of course rub salt into the wound just like any other intoxicant.
On the other hand, if Khat has effect on people's mental health, we could argue what has the UK police, health and local government officials done to prepare people for the change in law?
Enforced the ban by announcing it, ceasing imports, issuing fines and arrests?
Where is the support for those suffering from 'withdrawal symptoms'?
I am yet to see anti-khat packs, campaigns on media or support centres setup to assist the 'victims'; like we see for other legal and more harmful intoxicants that are perhaps causes of more vices in the wider community.
Instead the bogus grounds for the classification and ban are being swept under the carpet. Surely we live in a democratic country?
- Some security experts have argued that the East African extremist group al-Shabab has profited from the export and sale of khat.
This was dismissed by the ACMD, which complained it had not been provided with "any evidence of al-Shabab involvement despite repeated requests for this information from a number of national and international official sources".
- The move will stop the UK from becoming a hub for trafficking khat to countries where it is banned, says one of the ministers.
For crying out loud, breakaway from this delusion please!
Inevitably, with all bans, a black market will emerge, those that want to smuggle it to the other countries will find an alternative, the price of khat for those who buy it in the UK will rise, and as ever it will serve to create a new income stream for organised crime. Next we will have khat opioids in the black market, un-tested and potentially hazardous.
Why Fix it?
As if it is not already obvious from the above that this ban was a mistake.Even MPs on the committee had concerns, the government's own advisory council also cautioned against a ban, concerned at the lack of evidence that it harms health or wider society. Simply put and IMHO:
Bogus Ban Reasons!
The reasons given are all baseless grounds and further witlessness of the government, failing to heed to its own advisory body; a new dimension of hypocrisy.
Build Wealth, Cut the Dole Lines!
The Treasury benefitted from £2.5m per annum in taxes on the khat trade according to the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
- Also about 2,560 tonnes were imported to the UK every year. Providing employment and business around the UK; the hundreds of Khat cafes where men from the Somali, Yemeni, Kenyan and Ethiopian communities went to chew and socialise are now threatened to be out of business as well.
- Let us not forget impact in Kenya's khat-growing Meru region with over 500,000 farmers and about 2 Million people employed in the supply chain.
- Surely the economic impact of the ban, will be felt by part of the UK community, subsequently increasing the dole lines.It is unfortunate, the domino effect across the supply chain for this wrong decision will also be felt by people and businesses far beyond the UK borders.
Freedom to Express Cultural Significance!
Taking away this socialising and cultural right from Ethiopian, Kenyan, Somali and Yemeni communities is totalitarianism.
It is difficult to fully predict the behavioural impact Khat classification will have for now, as there was no impact assessment carried out by the government before the ban was imposed. The last thing we need is for Khat users to turn to alternatives.
Practising my democratic right, I am signing this petition and requesting for our government to consider either, reversing the khat ban or formulating policy for governing and licensing trade and consumption of Khat, just like controls are in place for tobacco or other intoxicants used widely in the UK.
Once again for all those that support the notion to exercise cultural freedom, democracy and say 'no' to bogus government regulations’, I urge you to help by signing this petition.
First hand experience
Many thanks in advance.
Imran D Abdulla