Father and son arrested on suspicion of selling khat from Kentish Town cafe

Police raided the Yasmina cafe in Kentish Town Road. Picture: Google Streetview

Police raided the Yasmina cafe in Kentish Town Road. Picture: Google Streetview - Credit: Archant

A father and son have been arrested on suspicion of supplying the newly-banned drug khat after police raided a café in Kentish Town.

A stock photo of khat

A stock photo of khat - Credit: Archant

Police carried out a search warrant on April 8 after receiving information that khat was being sold from Yasmina in Kentish Town Road.

During the search, officers seized four carrier bags and one large self-sealed bag of what is believed to be khat.

One male was arrested at the scene on suspicion of supplying class C drugs.

His father later handed himself in to Camden Police Station on the same day. He was also arrested on suspicion of supplying class C drugs. Officers seized £2,500 in cash that he was in possession of and both men have been bailed to a date in late May.

The arrests come almost a year since khat was controversially made illegal as a class C substance by Conservative home secretary Theresa May.

Chewing the plant, which provides a mild stimulant, is popular among many members of ethnic communities from Africa.

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Users of khat say its use raises energy levels and is as harmless as coffee or tea.

But some community groups pushed for khat to be made illegal, claiming it was the cause of many social ills and led to mental health problems.

The ban last year came despite government official advisers – the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) – saying the plant should not be classified.

The ACMD said: “The evidence of harms associated with the use of khat is insufficient to justify control and it would be inappropriate and disproportionate to classify khat under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.”

The Home Affairs Select Committee also opposed the ban.

It said: “The decision to control khat was based not on any evidence of medical or social harm caused by its consumption, but by a desire to avoid the UK becoming a hub for the illegal importation of khat into other EU countries. It is clearly not in the UK’s national interests for the country to be used as a base of operations by international organised crime however, the Government must acknowledge that the ban itself has the potential to do harm to some of the most marginalised communities in the UK. A balance of the two scenarios is, therefore, the best alternative.”

Ministers at the time said the ban came after strong views from members of the Somali community, “particularly the mums and wives”.

Karen Bradley, the Home Office minister overseeing the ban, told the BBC last year: “They felt that khat was stopping the Somali community from integrating; it was distracting the husbands and sons from getting the education and the jobs that their wives and mothers desperately wanted them to get.”