Pubdate: Sun, 27 Sep 1998
Source: Toronto Star (Canada)
Section: "Have Your Say", Page E5
Author: Robin Givens


Feeble is only one description for the khat ban. How about racist? The
khat law was passed specifically to target Somalis and East Africans
in Canada for criminal punishment for continuing a harmless cultural

Ignorant is another world for Canadian khat policy, because the
effects of khat are not much different than the effects of the coffee
beans to which so many millions of Canadians are addicted.

Careful analysis of the World Health Organization report, "Chewing
Khat," reveals that khat produces the same daily use patterns found in
caffeine users and an honest appraisal indicates that khat use is far
less dangerous than coffee.

WHO tries to depict khat use on a par with amphetamine addiction, but
the studies admit "medical problems (associated with khat) are
infrequent." Certainly less common than with coffee, which causes well
over 20,000 deaths annually in the U.S. and Canada because of
coffee-induced ulcers, strokes and heart attacks. Coffee is also
implicated in cancer and fetal injury.

Most of the problems WHO blames on khat are far more a reflection of
social conditions in East Africa (i.e. millions starving in Sudan)
than the effects of any drug.

The khat ban is typical of lunatic drug prohibition policies that
waste billions in valuable resources trying to suppress substances
that cause less trouble than it takes to enforce the laws against them.

Robin Givens Mill Valley, Calif.
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Checked-by: Patrick Henry