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


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 cocaine).

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

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