Bristol Khat dealer wants to sell drug from back of car
A Khat dealer has asked for permission to sell the drug from the back of his car in a Bristol street.
Khat, which comes in leaf form, is not an illegal drug and can be bought from shops.
But it is known to cause mental, physical and emotional problems.
It is particularly popular among the 28,000 Somali community in Bristol, who mainly live in the Easton part of the city.
For the purposes of street trading laws, khat is classed as a vegetable.
Hassan Yasin Ali has applied for permission to sell the drug from the back of his P-registered Ford Mondeo in Stapleton Road, Easton.
The street was listed for street trading earlier this year.
Mr Ali wants to sell the drug between 2pm-12.01am, Monday to Sunday.
His application will be discussed by councillors at a meeting of the council's Licensing Committee next Tuesday.
Police have objected to consent being given to Mr Ali on the grounds that it would have a negative impact on the area. PC Alison Wakely, a violence and alcohol crime reduction officer with the Bristol Licensing Team based at New Bridewell police station, said they had already received complaints about trading from this vehicle which had caused parking problems and other road traffic issues.
She says in a report to councillors: "More recently, when PCSOs have approached the owner of this vehicle at that location, they were met with a great deal of aggression and verbal abuse.
"This was witnessed by the council CCTV operators, via the council CCTV located in the area.
"The grant of this application will seriously increase the potential for anti-social behaviour and crime and disorder in what is already a heavily residential area."
She says that chewing the leaf releases toxins which have stimulant properties similar to amphetamine.
But there are side effects such as severe mood swings and lead to a tendency to violence, paranoia, depression, irritability, anxiety and other psychotic reactions.
In addition, long term use has shown to develop insomnia, high blood pressure, heart problems and even cancer.
PC Wakely says: "Whilst there is only minimal evidence to directly link the use of khat to violent incidents and recorded incidents of domestic violence, the tendency for erratic mood swings raises the potential for violent incidents, particularly when khat users are confronted."
She says the current practice of dealing from the back of a car leads to cars parking illegally and khat users sitting around in large groups, causing an obstruction.
A forum arranged to gather up-to-date information about khat concluded "problematic use is harming the community beyond measure". It said that khat use was inextricably linked with very high unemployment among Somali men which is currently about 78 per cent.
The Bristol Evening Post has tried to contact Mr Ali but has been unable to do so.