Khat ban proposal should be supported, says Somali health trainer It’s not harmless – it makes people lazy and they can lose their job. People who use khat often stop looking after themselves and can become violent a lot of the time. It breaks up families.”

His plea comes after Home Secretary Theresa May announced she planned on categorising the currently legal drug as a class C drug.

This means if people are caught in possession, they could go to prison for up to two years and get an unlimited fine.

If they are found to be dealing or supplying the substance, this could result in a jail sentence of up to 14 years.

Khat, which comes from a leafy green plant, is commonly used in Africa but is now becoming more prevalent in Europe.

Abdikayf said the average portion can be brought for £5 to £10 and people chew it for about an hour.

“It is so popular in the Somali community, I think every family knows of somebody who is suffering from the effects of khat. A lot of us are very worried,” said Abdikayf.

Chewing khat can also lead to gum disease.

Abdikayf said that khat is used to replace alcohol, which is prohibited in the Somali community because of their Muslim religion.

“It has become the norm to chew khat,” said Abdikayf.

“Somali people sell it on the street, openly – it’s socially acceptable.”

A fortnight ago, Abdikayf organised a meeting at the Highfields Centre to back the proposed change.

“We now need people to support us,” said Abdikayf. “We need to educate people on the impact khat has. People don’t realise the damage it does.”

Caroline Gadsby of Swanswell – alcohol, drug and support services – confirmed there are a number of risks associated with misusing khat.

“While it can make you feel more alert, talkative and happy, it can also cause problems including insomnia, short-lived states of confusion, and make you feel anxious or aggressive,” she said.

“With heavy use, it could cause issues such as high blood pressure and heart problems. It could also make existing mental health problems worse, damage the mouth and teeth, and potentially lead to a small risk of significant liver disease. source  Leicester Mercury