An Icelander has been arrested in Norway for attempting to smuggle 17 kilogrammes of khat into the country.
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.
DV reports that the suspect in question was travelling from Amsterdam to Norway, where he was arrested at the airport. After spending the night in jail, he paid a fine and was released.
Iceland has also contended with khat smuggling. Last May, police in Reykjavík arrested four men suspected of attempting to send 60 kilos of khat to North America. 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.
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.