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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Friday 28th June 2013

The Times today reported that Theresa May, UK Home Secretary, is about to go against the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and schedule Catha edulis, khat, under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The article is here  but if, like me, you don’t have a subscription you’ll only be able to read the first couple of paragraphs.

But that is, probably enough because you can see that the Times says May is basing her decision on the belief that ‘the potential links between trade in it and Islamic extremism could justify a ban’.

‘Potential’ is the significant word there because there is no evidence of a link between khat and terrorism and the ACMD looked for any links and didn’t find them. So May can’t claim that she is scheduling it because there are links. But she can override all the expert opinion by saying there is ‘potential’. Didn’t I write something about the use of fear to justify actions?

Clearly, I can’t argue against that claim of ‘potential’ because that gets into one of those ‘the Home Office knows things other people don’t’ arguments.

So, I’ll just say this. IF (and that is the biggest if you can imagine times two) legal sales of khat are being used to fund terrorism how would making khat illegal (given that there is reliable evidence from countries that have done it that the price rises about ten times when you go from legal to illegal) bring an end to that funding?

Is Theresa May really that stupid?

Or, as I wrote to my MP, is she throwing a bone to right-wing Tories because she doesn’t give a damn about the well-being of the Somali and Yemeni communities in the UK? Maybe she knows she can't pass a draconian surveillance law of the sort being demanded by the extremists on the right so wants to show she's being tough on terror.

Here’s the letter I sent to Michael Moore.

Dear Mr. Moore,
It is rumoured (has been leaked?) that Theresa May intends to ignore the advice of the ACMD and schedule Catha edulis, khat, under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The ACMD spent a long time examining all the issues to see if the position had changed since the last time it spent a long time examining all the issues. It found, as before, that it did not make sense to schedule khat.
Instead, it said there was a need for increased support for that small minority of users who have problems or cause problems for their families.
How can Ms May claim to be interested in the welfare of British people if she is going to ignore this advice?
This looks like a sop to right-wing Tories.

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