A ‘LEGAL high’ drug called khat is causing ‘alarming’ problems among the Somalian community of Milton Keynes, city MP Mark Lancaster has told parliament.
Mr Lancaster made an impassioned speech asking the government to ban the drug, which is derived from a flowering plant found in Africa.
The plant, chewed by many Somalian men, contains an amphetamine-like substance that can create euphoria.
Though the substance is classed as legal, the side effects can be paranoia, aggression and hallucinations.
“This makes it extremely disruptive, not just to the individual and their health, but to their family and wider society,” said Mr Lancaster.
He told fellow MPs there were 6,000 Somali residents in his constituency, Milton Keynes North.
“One of the leaders of the Milton Keynes Somali community, Adan Kahin, has shared many alarming stories with me,” he said.
Mr Kahin has described how heavy usage can cause aggressive behaviour and how a number of teenage boys sit all day in a ‘mafrishi’ – khat house – chewing the leaves.
Said Mr Lancaster: “If the government is truly concerned about the anti-social behaviour witnessed last summer, then they need to be looking into these corners of society if they hope to fix what’s broken.”
This is the second time the MP has demanded khat be made illegal, an action promised by the previous government.
He was congratulated by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State James Brokenshire, who said the government was assessing khat usage.
“We take this issue very seriously. We will not kick it into the grass.
“We remain focused on this matter and will take action if that is judged appropriate.