The Dutch government has decided to impose a ban on khat, following the publication of a study on the use of the drug by Somalian immigrants. According to the study, chewing khat — a plant whose leaves produce an effect similar to amphetamines — ”is harmful to health and a source of social problems.”
The Dutch press has reacted with astonishment to the announcement. Trouw headlines “Hardly a nuisance, but banned all the same,” while rival daily De Volkskrant points out that “of the 27,000 Somalians in the Netherlands, only 10% are addicted to khat.”
De Volkskrant argues that the government’s plan to outlaw a stimulant and to classify it as a hard drug is wide of the mark: “Targeted measures would likely have had more effect than a blanket ban,” which runs the risk of contributing to the development of a black market.
NRC Handelsblad adds that-
... the importing of khat into Europe is only legal in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. As a result, Schiphol [airport] and the neighbouring town of Uithoorn have been able to develop as the centre of a European market.
According to the newspaper, “a mistrust of Somalia as a trading partner” also played a role in the decision by the government, which believes that the “revenue generated by the trade is used to finance terrorist activities” in the Horn of Africa.