Khat: social harms and legislation: a literature review

Document type
Literature review
Anderson, David M; Carrier, Neil C M
Home Office
Date of publication
1 July 2011
Substance Misuse, Legislation, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

Download (351KB )

This study provides a literature review of material pertaining to the reported social harms of khat, a stimulant grown and consumed in parts of north east Africa and the Middle East and imported into the UK in large quantities to meet demand among Ethiopian, Kenyan, Somali and immigrant communities, to consumers in the UK. The paper also includes commentary upon the legislation brought in to control and prohibit khat in other countries. The review found a general lack of robust evidence on the link between khat use and social harms. Reported social harms associated with khat remain a concern among the UK’s immigrant Somali community, yet beyond often contradictory anecdotal statements, this review found no evidence to show a causal relationship between khat and the various social harms for which its consumption is supposedly responsible. The review also found that legislating against khat in Europe and North America has had little success in curbing demand and has taken place with little consideration of evidence. In those countries where the greatest evidence on khat use has been compiled (the UK, the Netherlands and Australia), import and consumption are still permitted, albeit under the control of a permit system in the case of Australia.

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