Khat: Boon for Kenya, Banned in UK—Global Debate on Legal Stimulants (+Video)

By Tara MacIsaac
Tara MacIsaac
Tara MacIsaac
Tara MacIsaac is an editor and reporter who has worked on a variety of topics over the course of her ten years with The Epoch Times, including science, the environment, and local New York news. She is currently working with The Epoch Times edition based in Southern California.
August 20, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Kenyans find the ban of khat, a plant stimulant, in the UK incomprehensible. In Kenya, everyone chews khat; chewing khat releases its juices, which cause a state of euphoria and alertness. Even churches and schools grow khat. 

But the production and supply of khat in the UK is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, reports AFP. The UK announced its ban in July. 

In New Zealand, the debate on “synthetic highs”—legal “uppers” sold in shops—had locals in Greymouth riled at a public meeting on August 19, reports the New Zealand Herald.

Despite community opposition, Cedric Togiram, owner of Planet Funk—the only shop in Greymouth to supply synthetic highs—is determined to keep selling the pills.

“I’m not going to give in like the owner of the other shop. Only losers give in and I am not a loser,” he said, according to the Herald. “I have my interim license and I am only selling what has been regulated.”

He says the legal highs are more mild than the illegal ones, and people would turn to those more harmful substances if he didn’t supply the legal products.

In Kenya, farmers and others impacted economically by the ban protest the UK’s decision.

While chewing khat creates an initial feeling of euphoria, it may be followed by a period of irritability, loss of appetite and a depressed mood, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. It can also create difficulty sleeping.

Tara MacIsaac
Tara MacIsaac
Tara MacIsaac is an editor and reporter who has worked on a variety of topics over the course of her ten years with The Epoch Times, including science, the environment, and local New York news. She is currently working with The Epoch Times edition based in Southern California.