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Khat in Somaliland, but not here

The Global Post has an interesting and brief report by Tristan McConnel (sponsored by the Pulitzer Center) on the problem in Somaliland of khat abuse. The comments raise the inevitable issues of cross-cultural understanding.

Isn’t it odd that this drug hasn’t crossed the ocean and taken root (so to speak) in the West? I can’t think of another that’s used so widely on one continent that hasn’t shown up in the West. On the other hand, my knowledge of cultural psycho-pharmacology is pretty much limited to what’s in The Encyclopedia of Things You Already Know.

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One Response to “Khat in Somaliland, but not here”

  1. Khat is legal in the UK but not in the USA. Its use in England seems to have spread beyond the Somali and other traditional aficionado immigrant communities in England to the extent that I can recall recent articles bemoaning khat culture in English newspapers (the new faddish drug for recherche teens) and seeking to criminalize it.

    Illegality is the main reason that it hasn’t crossed the Atlantic ocean – although, and perhaps it’s because I live in Berkeley that I am aware of this, that doesn’t prevent the local Ethiopians/Somalis from obtain a modest supply.

    There’s also apparently the issue of freshness, ideally khat should be day old (2 days max). The supply chain to get from farms in Ethiopia/Somalia to Heathrow and distributed across England is pretty efficient. Getting to the States would add another 6-8 hours for not much reward. So maybe it’s also a bit of economics and taste.

    Just passing by… The Wife taught a class on drugs in world history last year which is how I overheard what I’m confidently spouting…


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