Vice Squad
Monday, January 08, 2007
Anti-Khat Fundamentalism

The Somali Islamic Courts Council no longer sets the rules in Mogadishu, so its short-lived ban on khat has been rescinded. (Thanks to Alcohol and Drugs History Society for the pointer.) Nothing like banning a substance used for centuries by a majority of the male population. The SICC banned movies, too, and I suppose that that ban went south with them as well.

In the US, the fundamentalist government banned khat nationally in 1993 -- put it in the dreaded schedule 1, in fact, reserved for only the worst drugs, like heroin, psilocybin, and pot. (State laws on khat seem to vary, however.) This is one war that the Blairites in Britain have not joined. In Tennessee, a Somali immigrant found with 17 bags of khat -- which degrades quickly so must be consumed within a few days of harvest -- was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison. Motion pictures remain legal in Tennessee, generally speaking.

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