Sunday, January 28, 2018

Yemen: Land of the Khat

Yemen might not be the first place you think of when it comes to drug tourism, but maybe it should be.  They literally shut their cities down after 1 p.m. & dedicate the entire afternoon & evening to chewing khat--a natural stimulant that grows in the area.  Khat (Catha edulis) contains cathinone: a short-lived stimulant with amphetamine-like effects.  In Yemen nearly everyone chews khat, from the women & men down to the little children.  While you may or may not agree with this "lifestyle choice," it's one of the few things that keeps the people happy & somewhat numb to their economic woes.

Khat is also native to Somali, Ethiopia & other Arabian/African regions.  It is banned in the U.S. as a Schedule I controlled substance despite its relative lack of health risks.  Constant khat chewing can increase one's risk of oral cancer, and some people have idiopathic liver reactions to khat similar to the way some react to kratom.  But compared to tobacco & alcohol it's small beans.

This short news piece offers a snooty outsider's perspective on Yemen's khat "problem":

So, really, the biggest issue with khat is that it is a thirsty plant that's drinking up too much water in a desert region already dying from lack of moisture.  And it's all anyone wants to grow.  But I'm sure this problem could be overcome with modern farming techniques & incentives to diversify crops, right?  Outsiders to the culture have no right to barge in & take away something that's been used for millennia...whether they're using it to "get stoned" or not.  Unless you'd be cool with another nation coming in and confiscating our Venti mocha lattes & Red Bull energy drinks, that is.

Would you try khat?  I would.  I love chewing coca & would like to try something a bit "stronger".  Natural stimulants have always been of interest ever since I first discovered ephedra as a teen.  Nature can really pack a punch and we have no right to outlaw it for consenting adults.  Drug warriors are no different than ISIS in this regard, trying to ban things that grow out of the ground for foggy moral purposes.  Don't like it?  Don't use it.  Problem solved.


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