Page last updated at 19:55 GMT, Wednesday, 11 January 2012

MP calls for ban on drug khat

On 11 January 2012, Conservative MP Mark Lancaster led an adjournment debate calling on the government to tackle the use of the drug khat.

The khat plant is used by many in the Somali, Ethiopian and Yemeni communities in the UK and plays a large part in the social lives of both men and women.

It is banned across America, Canada and most of Europe, but remains legal in Britain.

Chewing khat for a long time can give a mellow high and some users describe it as a cross between cannabis and cocaine.

Mr Lancaster called for a "joined-up, united front" to ban khat, and declared the drug a "barrier to inclusion and integration".

The Milton Keynes North MP expressed his frustration that the coalition government had yet to ban the use of the drug, and pointed out that several MPs had raised the issue in Parliament over the last 16 years.

"Khat has languished in this chamber year after year," he told MPs.

"The time has come to follow the rest of the Western world and act on khat," Mr Lancaster concluded.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire assured MPs that the government was "concerned" about the issue.

Mr Brokenshire said the government took "very seriously" its obligation to protect users of the drug.

Story Tools

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific