America’s war on khat
Reykjavik’s English-language alt-weekly, The Grapevine, reports (HT: @Joshuakucera) on a big khat seizure: Police in Reykjavík have arrested four men suspected of attempting to send 60 kilos of khat to North America. Vísir reports that it appears the four men did not intend to sell the khat in this country, but rather to send it ...
Police in Reykjavík have arrested four men suspected of attempting to send 60 kilos of khat to North America.
Vísir reports that it appears the four men did not intend to sell the khat in this country, but rather to send it onwards from mainland Europe to North America. This is actually the second time police have seized khat, which in Iceland is classified as an addictive substance, during a customs inspection last August.
Khat is a plant which grows particularly in Ethiopia and Somalia. It is chewed when fresh, producing a mild stimulant effect. It is, however, banned in the US, Canada, and all European countries except Holland and the UK.
Earlier this month, police here in Washington arrested an Ethiopian cafe owner after seizing more than 300 pounds of khat with a street value of around $95,000.
Khat, in its fresh state, is considered a schedule I drug in the United States, putting it in the same category as narcotics like LSD, PCP, and ecstasy. The drug has become increasingly popular in the United States, particularly in cities like Washington and San Diego with large Somali and Ethiopian populations. Khat’s defenders say it’s a mild stimulant along the lines of tobacco or caffeine, and law enforcement crackdowns have often led to tensions between the police and the growing East African community in the United States.
Joshua Keating is a former associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating
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