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Dutch to Ban Khat

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #716)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

In keeping with the regressive turn Dutch drug policy has taken under its conservative coalition government, the Dutch government said Tuesday it will ban khat, a plant used by people from the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula for its mild stimulant properties.

Man chewing khat, Sanaa, Yemen, 2009 (
"Health Minister (Edith) Schippers will soon place khat on list II of the opium law. This will make possession and trade in khat illegal," said a joint statement from the Dutch interior affairs, security and justice and health ministries.

The ban is designed to serve a dual purpose for the Dutch. First, it is aimed at reducing domestic khat consumption, mainly among Ethiopian and Yemeni immigrants. Dutch officials said social problems, including high unemployment in the Somali community, prompted the ban, although it's not clear how banning khat will boost the jobs picture for immigrants.

They also cited longstanding pressures from other European countries to clamp down on the khat trade. The ban is thus also designed to stop the use of Amsterdam's Schipol Airport as a key hub for khat destined for other European countries where it is already illegal, including Denmark, Germany, and Sweden. (Khat is also banned in the US and Canada.)

The Dutch said that more than 800 tons of khat were imported into the Netherlands last year, 80% of which was exported to other European countries.

Swedish police welcomed the Dutch action, saying they suspected profits from the trade were going to finance militants like Al Shabaab in Somalia. Swedish police estimate that 200 tons of khat are smuggled into the country each year.

"Smuggling to Scandinavia is quite substantial... we catch smugglers on the Swedish border several times a week, though probably 9 in 10 transports get through," Stefan Kalman of the Swedish police drug squad told Reuters. "This ban means a huge change for us. I expect the numbers to go down now, as smuggling becomes more difficult," he added.

The Dutch khat ban is in line with the government's crackdown on the sale of marijuana and hashish. The number of cannabis coffee shops there is declining, and a ban on foreigners in coffee shops is set to begin going into effect this year.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Tony Aroma (not verified)

I'm no history scholar, but won't banning Khat make it more valuable and therefore INCREASE the profits for terrorists and others in the black market?

Wed, 01/11/2012 - 8:36pm Permalink
Nilli (not verified)

Not in Amsterdam.  Coffeeshop owners in the city have been granted license to keep their coffeeshops open to tourists until at least 2015

Wed, 01/11/2012 - 8:55pm Permalink
waderawluk (not verified)

In reply to by Nilli (not verified)

Where did you hear about the coffeeshops in Amsterdam being granted a license to serve foreigners until 2015? What news source? Does this not conflict with the government's requirement that all of the country have the weed pass system by next year. It sounds too good to be true.

Wed, 01/11/2012 - 11:14pm Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

Did anybody notice, the picture of a "Man chewing khat" appears to show a $igarette jutting out between fingers-- why would anyone chewing herbal leaves also want to inhale from a $igarette?  Is that usual in Yemen?  Does it imply there is some popular synergy between nicotine and the active constituents in khat?

Thu, 01/12/2012 - 9:16pm Permalink
annroc2004 (not verified)

oh i see...Khat is the new opium...NOT ! see that the War on Drug users is: ITS A WAR ON ANCIENT CULTURES such as those Cultures who use KHAT; HEMP; CACTUS AND MUSHROOMS...Along with the Banning of the Herbs goes their colorful costumes their ancient music their good food and herbal medicines; see the War against Khat and other Medicinal Herbs is a war against ancient cultures; whereas the establishment want to stomp out the colorful dances and music of these cultures by banning their Herbs!

this is dumb stupid and idiotic...the ancient cultures of this world must be preserved along with their Art and Music!

Fri, 01/13/2012 - 6:45am Permalink
TrebleBass (not verified)

In reply to by annroc2004 (not verified)

you hit the nail on the head. its that but its also political, so as to play good with other european powers (but then again those powers are also playing to (and fomenting) the paranoia against (in this case) muslims). also it all gets muddled up with poking fear at the population about drugs ("those weird-drug-using terrorists are getting rich from selling that stuff in our countries and then using the proceeds for terrorism!"). all this when they probably know very well that 1) if they legalize it al shabab gets no more proceeds, and 2) khat in its natural form is a very safe drug.

Sun, 01/15/2012 - 5:02pm Permalink
annroc2004 (not verified)

to maxwood there is no correlation between Khat and Tobacco; where do you come up with such an idea people use tobacco all over the world; suing tobacco does not have anything to do with Khat...nice try tho'!


Khat is a mild relaxant; similar to Americans drinking coffee or tee; KHAT IS NOT A DRUG; KHAT AN HERB!


do people know the difference between a Drug and an Herb ? An Herb grows from the ground; drugs manmade

Fri, 01/13/2012 - 6:50am Permalink
TrebleBass (not verified)

In reply to by annroc2004 (not verified)

the word drug has been made into a bad word, but it shouldn't be; it's just something that has an effect on the nervous system. i don't have any problem with the word drug. i think khat, like cannabis, is both a drug and an herb. 

Sun, 01/15/2012 - 5:17pm Permalink
annroc2004 (not verified)

ps the dutch want to list Khat on the opium list; yet Khat does not contain one molecule of opium...ABSURD ! dumb!

Fri, 01/13/2012 - 6:54am Permalink
DevilDog2019 (not verified)

Remember the Mister Yuck stickers, these products are used in home labs to make "Drugs". These were called poisons when I was growing up. Drugs were given by Pharmacists in "Drug Stores". 

Mon, 01/16/2012 - 7:11pm Permalink
Paul Pot (not verified)

I was once given a cup of khat tea made fresh from the garden. I noticed nothing other than we really did talk more. It was a very talky day. Highly recommended for getting together and having a big talk fest. Good for political conventions and that is just what it is traditionally used for, when there are things that have to be discussed, the khat is broken out and everybody talks their heads off. Should be served at every convention. 

Here is another of natures gifts being subject to a genocidal onslaught. Have the stewards of Holland forgotten so easily, was it that long ago that Europe went through a regime of repression and genocide based on religious beliefs and behaviour patterns. These laws require the extinction of plant species, technically an act of genocide but not so far recognized by law. But when you add that these plants have significant cultural bonds with us and and over a very long period of time then the denial and destruction of a culture is an act of genocide. The denial of economic right is also an act of genocide and khat is another crop that has great importance economically to a large number of people. 

It should also be pointed out that the people most likely to indulge in khat will be of Islamic descent which means you are setting up a big bad can of worms for an escalation of the drug war drawn up along religious lines once again. For example the Taliban funds their activities by taxing the illicit opium trade. 
The policing of these laws does great harm to people on the ground and creates enormous resentment and therefore motivation, while the income the drug crops generate gives people access to weapons and the chance to finance operations with which to vent their anger. 
This is really dangerous policy. Laws like this encourage the destabilization of world security. Prohibition does not work.
To support prohibition you have to be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.
Legalize! Apologize! Compensate!
Thu, 02/23/2012 - 2:05am Permalink
Anonymous 1 (not verified)



I heard the minister talk about the reason for the ban of khat

they were : NOISE, Lack of Job (people who chew), and the lack of  take responsibility for themselves or their families. 


hahaha... the reasons of the ban of the herbs are so ridiculous that it makes me sick to my stomach... 


and here we have real problems with alcohol that alot destroys lifes and health every year! and there is no talk about it. 


people who chew khat are not noisy, they do not even come outside of their house... Holland was a nice cool place once, now its goin to be a control state.. 

Fri, 01/11/2013 - 10:40pm Permalink

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