England Bans Herbal Stimulant Qat

Despite expert advisers saying there's no evidence that justifies a ban


The home secretary, Theresa May, has defied her own expert advisers and banned qat, a mild herbal stimulant that is traditionally used by Britain's Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities.

May said it would become a class C drug and warned that since the majority of other north European states had already banned the herb there was a serious risk that Britain could become a "single, regional hub" for its illegal onward trafficking.

The home secretary added that the penalties for personal possession would escalate in a similar way to those for cannabis, with a warning issued for a first-time offence leading to arrest and prosecution for persistent users.