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Thursday, 4 July 2013

UK Government Officially Bans Miraa

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United Kingdom: The British government has outlawed the use and sale of  miraa( khat)  in the United Kingdom.

The written ministerial statement outlining the UK government's decision to ban miraa was delivered today in the House of Commons by Home Secretary Theresa May and in the House of Lords by Lord Taylor of Holbeach.

Basing its decision on a report by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs released in January, the government said although the ACMD recommended that miraa should not be controlled there was evidence that the UK would become  a “single, regional hub for the illegal onward trafficking of khat” to countries in Europe and North America that had outlawed the substance.

“Khat continues to feature prominently amongst the health and social harms, such as low attainment and family breakdown, cited by affected communities and the police and local authorities working with them.” The ministerial statement reads in part.

Plans by Home Secretary Theresa May to ban miraa were reported in the UK Times on Friday last week because of its potential links between its trade and Islamic extremism. Miraa trade, it is suspected, funds terrorism activities in some cases.

In January, the UK government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs rejected calls for a miraa ban on the basis that it could lead to health problems. In refusing to outlaw the sale and use of miraa in that country, ACMD said at the time that there was insufficient evidence to link its use to adverse health problems.

Traders had expressed fears over the proposal as the UK was Kenya’s sole market for  miraa with over after the Netherlands outlawed it last year with over 80 tonnes of miraa is exported to UK weekly.

"Miraa is the only fresh cargo that is most expensively charged. Kenya Airways will also be the second biggest direct loser since it charges $4.30 per kilogram of miraa carried," Francis Kinyua coordinator for - a company that packages and exports miraa. The drug is mainly used in the UK by Somali, Ethiopian, East African and Yemeni people. 

The last time the traders were faced with an imminent UK ban, Nyambene Miraa Traders Association started efforts to improve the image of the trade and use of the commodity in England that would see a proactive approach to address littering, gathering in large crowds and new strategies to improve packaging and pesticide use. (The Star)

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