Police in Reykjavík have arrested four men suspected of attempting to send 60 kilos of khat to North America.
Vísir reports that it appears the four men did not intend to sell the khat in this country, but rather to send it onwards from mainland Europe to North America. This is actually the second time police have seized khat, which in Iceland is classified as an addictive substance, during a customs inspection last August.
Khat is a plant which grows particularly in Ethiopia and Somalia. It is chewed when fresh, producing a mild stimulant effect. It is, however, banned in the US, Canada, and all European countries except Holland and the UK.
Bjarni Harðarson, former member of parliament and current PR manager for the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, wrote on his blog that “if khat is a drug then it is a double standard of ours to classify it as a drug. The substance is allowed in Britain, and as the substance is considered about as addictive as coffee, the effects are insignificant. It is a very natural substance and has a long tradition behind it, but maybe there is still no reason to allow it here up north.”
While khat does appear to have a number of effects on the health, none of them are particularly life-threatening or more severe than what one might contract from certain fully legal substances.