Khat has been consumed for hundreds if not thousands of years in the highlands of Eastern Africa and Southern Arabia. Outside that area, khat use was first observed during the 1980s, but has only attracted wider attention in recent years.

Where khat has been studied extensively, namely Australia, the UK and until recently the Netherlands, governments have steered clear of prohibition because the negative medical and social harms do not merit such controls.

Where strict bans on khat have been introduced they have had severe unintended negative consequences and failed to further the integration, social inclusion and economic prosperity of Somali communities in particular, which chew khat most widely. Experi­ences from North America and Scandi­navia show that a ban will not solve problems associated with kath but tend to increase them.

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