Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Every third Somali man in the welfare state of Sweden chews khat

Use of the illegal drug khat is widespread in Sweden's immigrant suburbs but the police have chosen to turn a blind eye. Swedish courts have ruled that narcotics crimes involving khat will only be categorized as serious if at least 400 kilos of the drug is involved. Anyone caught smuggling less than this amount will at most be fined and ordered to perform community service. A critical report issued by the National Police Board’s intelligence division has calculated that 400 kilos is equivalent to 16,000 “abuse doses”, a measure often used by the justice system to calculate the seriousness of a narcotics offence. The report then highlights two Supreme Court cases involving GHB and Rohypnol, where 150 and 200 “abuse doses” are sufficient to render as serious drug offences involving these substances. In Somalia almost everybody chews khat. Many soldiers participating in the country’s civil war chew it to fight, while others chew it to escape the effects of war. The rest chew it because everybody else does. The effects of the stimulant are well-documented. Users can become talkative, euphoric and emotionally unbalanced. The effects of long-term use can be devastating, often leading to personality disorders and other serious mental health problems.

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