I was surprised to read today that the Dutch government is to ban Khat (a mild stimulant used mostly by Somalis and Yemenis), especially considering that this is the country whose drugs policy is so liberal that cannabis coffee shops are open for business across the country. In the BBC article, it cites ‘concerns’ that Khat can bring on schizophrenia, failing to mention that long-term cannabis use can have an greater affect of inducing psychosis, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
Khat has a lower level of harm and dependency compared with alcohol and cannabis
In fact, the mental health problems of older Somali males who chew khat may have more to do with war-related PTSD or the the difficulties of refugee life. I suspect this ban has more to do with a failure to grasp why so many Somali’s living in Europe struggle to find work or otherwise integrate fully in their adopted countries. Gerd Leers, the Dutch immigration minister supportive of the ban, explained that the drug has led Somali male chewers to “refuse to co-operate with the government or take responsibility for themselves or their families”. Instead of addressing the true causes of social exclusion of Somali immigrants in the Netherlands, such as the increased instances of racism and Islamophobia accepted into European political discourse, the Dutch government have laid blame on the a substance which has the effect of an espresso.