Khat, Cathinones & Culture: A Continuing Story

In many cultures around the world, drugs are primarily consumed not by smoking or snorting, but chewing. Coca leaves in Latin America, Betel in Asia, and Khat in the Middle East and Africa. This process is the traditional method of psychotropic substance consumption, especially in places where only tobacco is frequently smoked. In Somalia-land, the Eastern regions of Africa & the Arabian peninsula, Khat is king. This cathinone has amphetamine-like effects, but is significantly less powerful than something like adderall or methamphetamine. However, just because it’s a plant, not a powder, doesn’t mean it’s not still potent & hugely popular in much of the world.

KhatFF graphicThis “herbal stimulant” has followed sub-Saharan migrant workers to Europe, while entrenching deeply within its native Somaliland (an independent autonomous region from Somalia). Approximately 20% of the government’s revenue comes from the sale of the plant. The drug has been seen as a problem for some, while an opportunity for others, and with the government encouraging the sale, a ban or restriction of any kind seems unlikely. The plant is  considered less potent & addictive than powder or pill based concentrates that have made it over to the Western world. Al Jazeera has a great pair of features about the plant and the migrant worker culture surrounding it.

While the West has a terrible history of using racism to make drugs illegal, only Missouri in the USA has made this specific plant illegal. The active substance, cathinone, has gone on to much infamy being associated with “bath salts.” Cathinones are internationally scheduled, but the Khat plant was made illegal in the UK after a long & bitter fight that seemed to occur along racial & class lines (as discussed in those dope Al-Jazeera articles), as the plant is chewed primarily by immigrants. Ravelrie, NY DanceSafe & Stay Safe Seattle will be joining me to talk about the effects, information on the addictive potential & the positive/negative effects of the plant. Use #khatFF to join in the slightly sped up fun!

 

 

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