Pubdate: Sun, 27 Sep 1998
Date: 09/27/1998
Source: Toronto Star (Canada)
Author: Dave Haans

Re Feeble law hasn't stopped trade in khat (Sept 6).

Farah Jacma writes an interesting and perceptive letter, stating that
"many more (khat) shops are opening and business is flourishing,"
despite khat being declared illegal under the Controlled Drugs and
Substances Act.

What is happening is something we have seen before in Canada.  A
relatively harmless substance (khat is a mild stimulant, used socially
in much the same way as coffee), is prohibited, immediately creating a
black market in its trade.  Rather than selling for $7, as Farah Jacma
points out, its price jumps to $70, creating massive profits for
anyone, including Somali warlords, who want to traffic in it.

One only wonders when (there is no if, unfortunately) khat's active
ingredient, cathinone, will be extracted from the khat leaf, smuggled
into Canada, and sold to anyone with a few bucks, children included.

Profits for drug and war lords will increase exponentially and more
insidious versions of the drug will be manufactured (witness crack

The government, having completely abdicated its responsibility for the
control of the substance, will be left to pick up the pieces, just
like they now have to do with cocaine and heroin and the
prohibition-related problems revolving around those substances.

Farah Jacma suggests that more enforcement of the law might alleviate
the situation.  However, it is clear that the law itself causes the
problem in the first place.  Placing drugs in the control of the drug
lords hasn't worked, ever, in any society.

Jacma hits the nail on the head, though, when he suggests that khat
might be regulated and taxed.

This would place the substance once again in the control of the
government, which can do a much more responsible job of controlling it
than drug lords.

Dave Haans, Toronto