A good chew or good riddance
Approaching khat as a drug control issue carries substantial social costs without coming near resolving any of the underlying problems. Given that medical risks of khat use are modest, the objective of a regulatory framework should be the protection of consumers and community. This is best achieved by establishing processes for the quality control of khat imports, and by regulating access and availability. It should therefore not be considered as a drug to be controlled but as a licit substance that needs to be regulated.
The proposed framework is in line with existing regulations for the distribution and sale of most licit items of consumption, be these psychoactives like alcohol or tobacco products, tea, coffee, or food. It is an attempt to move the discussion on khat out of the maelstrom of drug classification and drug control, so as to open the way for a realistic management model. In conclusion we would like to add a number of guiding principles for any national or international regulatory framework:
(1) The regime is put into place to protect individuals, families and communities – not for the benefit of professional interest groups.
(2) The regime has to be based on practical, realisable goals that factor in the costs of the regulation.
(3) The objective is to protect public health and social well being – not to pursue ideological ambitions, like abstinence or a ‘khat free world’.
(4) The regime must have feedback loops and flexibility to adapt and change with times