London, UK (HOL) -- As Ahmed (not his real name) walked home from his local marfish in Ealing, West London at 11.55pm last night he was in a mixed mood. As of 12am today Khat in the UK is officially banned and a class C drug. Anyone using it, selling it or supplying it will be breaking the law and would be dealt with in accordance with the seriousness of their crimes with supplying been the most serious offence which carries a 14 year prison sentence.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The British Prime Minister (PM), writing exclusively for Hiiraan Online, argued that the decision to ban khat was based on the destructive social impact it has on families and society as a whole and that it was widely supported by the Somali community which had been asking for this for years.
David Cameron argued that khat affected communities like the Somalis in the UK blamed the drug for “family breakdown, unemployment, and debt and crimes links to the global illicit drugs trade.” As a result of this concern his government had decided “enough was enough” and acted swiftly towards banning it. The British PM wrote that the action of banning Khat shows that his government, which is also committed to developing Somalia as a nation too and keeping it on the global agenda, “cares about, and listens to, our British Somali community.”
Just before 12am this morning when the Khat ban came into legal affect Ahmed had spat out the khat into a bin near a Somali restaurant, gargled his mouth with bottled water and sat in the restaurant to contemplate the banning of the drug he had enjoyed since arriving in the UK in 1999.
“This was the last mirqaan night for me because I have to stop now. I don’t agree with ban and I don’t like David Cameron but we have to obey the law,” said Ahmed who did not want his real name revealed. “I am law abiding person and I have a job I can lose if I chew khat again but some men are still in the marfish chewing and they are now criminals because it is after midnight.”
Chief Constable Andy Bliss, the lead Police officer in the Khat strategy, made it clear in his exclusive statement to Hiiraan Online that “Policing efforts will focus on those individuals who choose to import, export or supply khat after the Ban is implemented.” He went on to write that:
“The police approach is based on a policy of proportionate escalation. As part of this approach, the Government has introduced a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) as a further option for dealing with khat possession offences. This will be at the lower level fine, unlike the cannabis PND which is at the higher level. This differentiates between cannabis as a Class B drug and khat as a Class C drug.”
Somali community leaders all over the UK have urged Khat users over many meetings held before the ban to obey the law and to seek support from the available and qualified agencies to help with health and social issues after the ban. On the other hand, they also pleaded with the public service providers in health, education and employment to respond to the needs of their community in a culturally sensitive way so as to ascertain the best possible outcomes for them.
HOL English News Desk