Government to ban coffee, khat and cake

No, the title of this blog post is not an April Fools – just a bit tongue in cheek. One of these three things has been banned by parliament*, and it does seem as if MPs will readily ban anything if it makes them seem Tough in the War On…whatever it is we’re fighting this week.

Last night, there was a key vote in a parliamentary committee on banning Khat, a substance used by Somalis, Ethiopians, Kenyans and Yemenis. The Tories are all for banning it, despite another parliamentary committee already recommending against it’s ban. The swing vote was left with Labour, as Liberal Democrats on the committee intended to follow the previous recommendation and advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and vote against a ban.

So, let’s review the evidence for a ban:

  • It’s used by foreign type people and not culturally British, or something. Unlike that equally potent substance, coffee, which originated in, um, Africa.
  • Banning things is good. (Labour even went as far as trying to ban coffee last year, because “psychoactive substances” just sounds scary)

And now the evidence against a ban:

  • There is no evidence it’s harmful. Don’t just believe me, go and check what some experts said.
  • The government gets £12.8 million a year in tax from it. That’s enough to build roughly two new primary schools each year. (Or buy three quarters of a Trident warhead every year, if you’re a Tory)
  • Prohibition tends not to work so well. If it did, we wouldn’t need a war on drugs in the first place. People will still use it, they’ll just fund criminal activity in the process.

Given all the evidence, guess which way Labour – and thus the committee – voted. That’s right, a Tory-Labour authoritarian mini-coalition

Next up: Parliament bans the dangerous substance, cake.

*To be precise, the legislation still has to pass in the whole house, but now Labour have come out for the ban, there’s no doubt it’ll pass there too

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