and excessive use can bring on psychological problems such as depression. anxiety and irritation. sometimes leading to psychosis.‘ Cybertoniks agree with this and recommend caution in the use of khat.

Britain is one of the few Western countries where khat is not illegal. Most of Europe has slapped import bans on the plant and in the US it is classed in the same drug category as heroin. By contrast. in African countries like the Yemen and Somalia. khat has been used for centuries by a huge proportion of the population and is a socially acceptable stimulant.

The UK authorities have taken a much less rigid stance. ‘The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs considered the question of khat in 1988.’ according to a Home Office statement last year. ‘and concluded that it did not justify the use of national controls . . . which would criminalise its supply and possession. We would of course not hesitate to take appropriate action should the misuse of khat become a significant cause for concern.’

The benefits for clubbers are obvious. Here’s a substance that stimulates the mind. enables you to stay up all night and is perfectly legal. Or as Benatar puts it: ‘In the last year or so there had been a lot of folk who had given up on the club scene because they had given up on the drug scene. Now they can go to clubs. get a bit high and have a good time and a boogie without needing to guzzle chemicals.‘ Khat truly looks like the drug you can eat between macrobiotic meals without ruining your nutritional balance.

Khat and smart drinks are two quite different products; khat is purely a recreational buzz. while smart drinks purport to offer long term health benefits. MacKie and Benatar see no conflict in selling the two substances together. ‘They both have the New Age attitude to recreational use of things and better lifestyles.’ says MacKie. ‘A lot of my friends have embraced both of them. They take smart drinks at home and they go out at the weekend and they take khat. They have found that by putting the two together they have a whole different pattern of life where you can get things together and have a life at the same time as enjoying yourself.” ‘IJ Look outfor the Cybertoniks stall at Edinburgh clubs like Jay, Yip Yap, Dagtastic and Saliva.

Khat culture: Jacques Benatar ot Cybertonlcs. Photographs by Jonathan Littlelohn

Khaol for Khats?

Purely in the selfless interest of research, The List sampled a range of Cybertoniks products in a test that was in no way scientific, objective or meticulous. But it was fun.

Alastair: One Fast Blast. ‘I felt alert. refreshed and awake. My mind was really active when walking home but without a control it‘s difficult to be objective. Better than coffee for waking you up and making you alert in a low-key way. Good a pick-me-up.’

Selina: 2 pints apple khat. l khat tincture. ‘I felt slightly more relaxed, happier. a little chattier perhaps. It’s difficult to tell. They're easy to drink. The khat

tincture was interesting. as the packaging made it seem as though you were taking a medicine. On another occasion. having had a few pints of beer. one smart drink seemed to take the head off any drunkenness and gave me a small energy boost.’

Thom: Rise and Shine smart drink. 1 khat tincture slammer. 1 black khat. ‘It all made me feel intensely normal and very alert. I didn’t get the tranced-out effect

feeling of

that I normally get from dancing all night but I was well able to participate in some sustained dance floor action. I didn’t get to bed until 7am but I woke at 10am and felt quite spaced out.’

Lesley: Black khat. khat tincture. two pints lemon khat, some khat leaves. ‘I was very hungover when we started off. Throughout the first pint l gradually felt more and more alert. It was all very easy to drink although having chewed the leaves I wouldn’t

touch them again -— they were disgusting. We were sitting in a club which I wouldn’t choose to go to or stay in and which would normally make feel irritable but I wanted to talk to people. the music just washed over my head and I was quite happy to stay there. I was still awake at 7am then slept until one in the afternoon. When I got tip I manically cleaned the fiat from top to bottom because I was full of energy that day.‘

The List Ill-23 Mar l‘NS 15