"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Qat - a Somali / Ethiopian / Yemen problem

Herbal Stimulant Use Increases in the U.K.

May 7, 2001: Qat (Catha edulis) is a perennial shrub traditionally cultivated in Ethiopia, The Yemen and Kenya, where it is an important cash crop.

The fresh leaves, when chewed, release a complex of alkaloids, which are known as pseudoephedrines because they have effects resembling those of the stimulant ephedrine (adrenalin). Two main constituents have been isolated, canthin and canthinone, both of which have a molecular structure similar to that of amphetamine.

Ethiopians and Somalis living in the UK can buy qat leaves in various parts of London and Manchester for about £4 (US$6) per bunch. Use of qat is often a social affair, traditionally restricted to single sex groups. It is now common for mixed groups to partake, although this is frowned on by elders in the Somali community who believe that it may lead to lewd behavior.

Is it legal to buy, sell and own qat?

The UK Government issued a report in 1998 examining the use of qat by members of Britain's immigrant Somali and Ethiopian communities (Griffiths, 1998). Use of qat in Britain was not banned following this report, although it is banned in the US, Canada, Norway and Sweden, where it is sold illicitly.

It is said that over 7 tons of qat pass through Heathrow airport each week,(this was 2001 when I reserached this) mainly from Kenya, and is on sale in London within 24 hours of harvesting.

Cathin and cathinone are controlled drugs and covered by the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. So in the UK the use of qat is an anomaly. Participants do not think it should be illegal and research suggests that chewing leaves for about 3 hours has about half the effect of medically administered amphetamines.

Recorded since the 13th Century in Arabian writings, it has been used in the way that coca leaves have been used by working people in Latin America to aid them in manual work. It is especially popular in Muslim nations where alcohol is forbidden.


About 6% of the UK's Ethiopian and Somali immigrant community members use qat daily and have a dependent habit. Griffiths (1998) found that 85% of 207 respondents reported tiredness, depression and difficulty sleeping after using qat. A study by Krikorian (1983) found qat use associated with dental and oral problems, gastro-intestinal disturbances, increased risk of liver disease, cardiovascular effects and complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Anecdotal evidence suggests that qat causes consitipation. Thus, it is said that when qat-use in Aden was banned by British military authorities during the 1950's there was a huge reduction in over the counter sales of laxatives.


(1) Paul Griffiths. 1998. Qat use in London: a study of qat use among a sample of Somalis living in London. Drugs Prevention Initiative Paper No. 26. Home Office, Central Drugs Prevention Unit. London, 101 p.

(2) Krikrian, A.D. 1983. Khat and it's use: An historical perspective. In The Health and Socio-economic Aspects of Khat Use. Eds. Shahandeh, B., R. Gaeda and A. Tongue. Conference proceedings, Madagascar. Lausanne: ICAA

Interestingly this was raised in the House of Commons in early June as follows ;

Hansard 8 Jun 2005 : Column 183WH
Mike Gapes (Ilford, South) (Lab/Co-op): I draw attention to this issue because of constituency reasons. Eight weeks ago, I was on a tube train on the Jubilee line in central London in the middle of a weekday afternoon when three young men who were probably 14, 15 or 16 years old got on to the train, carrying between them a large plastic bag containing stalks with leaves. They proceeded to spend the whole journey picking the leaves and chewing them. It was the first time that I had ever seen that on a tube train, and I wondered what the significance of it was. The three young men were clearly intoxicated and in their own world, taking part in something that was important to them.

The young men were Somali. During the recent election campaign, I had lots of discussions with members of my local Somali community. After that, I thought that it was important to raise this issue as early as possible in this Parliament. People in my Somali community in Ilford tell me that the consumption of khat—there are at least 40 different words for the substance in different languages—is a growing social and community problem. It is not just a problem for the Somali community, because it is not only Somalis who are chewing the leaves of this shrub. It is a wider problem, which could become serious unless the Government take some action to deal with it.

A newspaper in Milton Keynes reported on 3 February that people from Milton Keynes had been arrested in the United States. It said:

"Travellers from Milton Keynes have been turned back at US airports after trying to smuggle in the drug qat . . .
.....It is understood armed American customs officers caught at least five "mules"—recruited in Milton Keynes—with the leafy narcotic in their luggage during the last 12 months."

Those interested may read the debate - apparently a Home Office report is due later this year although promised for "Summer 2005".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Read the statements in parliament regarding the dissappearing Khat Report, made on 8th June 2005. HERE.

Why was the report delayed? Was it because the Home Office Report contained the name of one of the PAI 'researchers', one (Muktar) Ibrahim Said , formerly of Feltham YOI & more recently of Belmarsh/Woolwich Crown Court, where he is appearing in the July 21st flour bombs show (trial).

(C) Very Seriously Disorganised Criminals 2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 - copy anything you wish