Search

Outlawing of stimulant to help ‘rebuild families’ in Newham

11:53 02 July 2014

Khat

Khat

Archant

The decision to classify khat as a class C drug on June 24 (Tuesday) has been welcomed by health workers.

What is khat?

• Khat is a flowering plant native to mountainous areas in the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula.

• The leaves are chewed or drunk as an infusion in order to cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria.

• It contains a stimulant called cathonine which has similar effects to amphetamine (Speed).

• The khat plant is also known by a variety of other names including qaat and jaad in Somalia, qat and gat in Yemen and chat in Ethiopia.

MIND in Tower Hamlets and Newham (MITHN) helps users of the plant, which has been blamed for poverty, unemployment, violence and antisocial behaviour.

Project worker for khat and substance misuse, Idriis Elmi is an ex-user who lost his job from chewing khat.

He said: “The feedback we are getting is that the majority of people have welcomed the ban, even the users, as people get trapped in a vicious circle.

“Although it is not a physical addiction, it can become a psychological dependence.”

Chewing the herbal stimulant, popular in the Horn of Africa, has long been accepted as a social pastime predominantly among the Somali male community in the UK.

However it has come under fire from critics claiming it leads to health problems and broken families.

Project worker Roukya Omar helps women affected by the drug.

She said users become tired and irritable, leading to domestic violence.

Roukya added: “It’s a really grim, dark picture that khat leaves behind. Fathers use the family finances to fuel the habit and sit down for hours to chew it so they miss out on the household tasks and are unable to get a job or education.”

Roukya said that women are also turning to the drug as a coping mechanism.

She continued: “It is definitely very big problem in Newham. The first Mafreshis were in Upton Park and Forest Gate.”

The closure of Mafreshis, or chewing houses, including London’s largest in Romford Road, marks a crucial time for khat users.

Idriis said; “There will be a minority who may still use it but the price will have tripled from Tuesday. Also law abiding elders won’t want to get involved with criminal justice.

“Getting khat is going to be difficult. When they smuggle it into the UK it is bulky and the lifespan is very short.”

Police will now issue a “Khat Warning” to first time offenders caught chewing it.

Those caught in possession could face a £60 fine and suppliers face a 14 year prison sentence, unlimited financial penalty or both.

The plant is illegal in most other European countries as well as America and Canada.

Indriis said: “Everyone in the community is trying to get their loved ones back to reclaim their dignity and rebuild relationships.

“As the Somali community is mainly Muslim, Ramadan will give people a good opportunity to stop.”

Latest Newham News Stories

Yesterday, 17:00
Paul Harris headteacher at Curwen Primary School (picture: Birmingham City University)

With so many young people able to go to university these days it is sometimes argued that studying for degree is a waste of time and you can learn the same skills at “the university of life”.

Yesterday, 12:00
Boris Johnson stands with Lord Toby Jug    Picture: PA/Andrew Matthews

Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Jeremy Corbyn – they’re all nuts, according to the leader of the Eccentric Party of Great Britian.

Boris Johnson
Yesterday, 09:00
Members of the Independent Newham Users' Forum (INUF) Football Team

Ill mental health can affect us all. For our final Minds Matter week, a mental health service user tells Kat Hopps how volunteering and mental wellbeing has helped him on the road to recovery.

Emergency services outside Barking station respond to reports of a person on the track Picture: Zoah Hedges-Stocks

A person on the track has interrupted services as emergency services investigate.

British Transport Police

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Read more
£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Read more

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now