Britain to ban stimulant qat leaves

LONDON Wed Jul 3, 2013 2:11pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will ban qat, the leafy plant whose leaves are widely chewed in Yemen and the Horn of Africa for their mild stimulant effect.

The decision, announced on Wednesday by Home Secretary Theresa May, goes against the recommendation of the government's official drugs advisory body, which had argued there was little evidence of health problems.

Qat, or khat, is already banned in many Western nations, with the Netherlands the most recent country to make possession and trade in the drug illegal earlier this year.

May said that failure to take decisive action would place Britain at a serious risk of becoming a single, regional hub for the illegal onward trafficking of qat to the rest of Europe and North America.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Exditing by Mark Heinrich)

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