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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Friday 12th July 2013
‘Is That Khat Dead?’

I make no apology for returning to the subject of Catha edulis, khat, because my fear is that the issue of scheduling it under the Misuse of Drugs Act will fade from the mainstream media until, in a year or so, someone decides to write a story about the increased unemployment in the Somali community in the UK or the effect on farmers in Kenya whose livelihood was removed with no chance to find alternative crops or the criminal gangs that have taken the place of tax-paying traders.

Because I was having a lot of trouble, on Saturday, producing my video about the ban on Catha edulis, khat, (I was using free software supplied with my PC that turned out to be worth every penny) I missed the obvious title choice that would enable me to do a bit of shameless promotion of my book. Luckily, YouTube allows for title changes so I went back and renamed it. You can see it here.

Catha edulis, khat

Image from 'Is That Khat Dead?'

On the khat ban itself, we’re started to see distortions of distortions. The ministerial statement  misrepresented the ACMD’s report to justify ignoring it and, now, the Labour party in Tower Hamlets has welcomed the scheduling of khat by distorting what Theresa May said.

I haven’t heard anything from the Labour leadership since May’s announcement but, given that the previous Labour government agreed with the ACMD that there was no need to schedule the plant, I think it is fair to assume that welcoming the ban is not official Labour policy. It seems to me that this could be those with a religious agenda applying that agenda to politics.

There have, though, been interesting stories. The only problem I have with this story about what happened to a British man who tried to smuggle khat into the USA is that it doesn’t say when the events described took place so it would be wrong to suggest that it is evidence that smuggling from the UK to the USA is not a common practice currently.

Catha edulis, khat

Leaves cut from my khat plants

Today, the Department for Health issued a press release about its plan for plain packaging of tobacco products. This said it had been decided to wait to see what happened in Australia where this had been introduced because the government did not feel there was enough evidence to proceed.

I immediately contrasted this with the situation with khat where the ministerial statement acknowledged that there was little evidence of harm but khat was going to be scheduled anyway.

I tweeted;

UK government;
Plain packs 'Not enough evidence - we wait'
#khat 'Not enough evidence - we act'

And seem to have a struck a chord because, at the time of writing, there had been more Retweets of that comment than any other Tweet I've written.

My father told me not to lie because it was difficult to maintain the consistency to avoid lies being discovered. Today, I know exactly what he meant. I wonder when the government will come to understand this.

Catha edulis, khat

Screencap from 'Is That Khat Dead?'

On the subject of plain packaging, Diane Abbott MP asked an emergency question in the House of Commons about the announcement. The Hansard transcript records The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Anna Soubry, denying that the government has decided not to proceed with plain packaging claiming instead that it has just delayed implementation.

When asked about whether her department will publish an estimate of lives lost as a result of the delay once it does decide to proceed, Ms Soubry resorts to the old trick of asking why previous governments have not implemented this policy.


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