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Quasilegality: Khat, Cannabis and Africa’s Drug Laws

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JournalThird World Quarterly
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Aug 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 7 Sep 2017
DatePublished (current) - 1 Feb 2018
Issue number2
Volume39
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)350-365
Early online date7/09/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article explores the concept of ‘quasilegality’ in relation to two of Africa’s drug crops: khat and cannabis. It argues that the concept is useful in understanding the two substances and their ambiguous relation to the statute books: khat being of varied and ever-changing legal status yet often treated with suspicion even where legal, while cannabis is illegal everywhere in Africa yet often seems de facto legal. The article argues that such quasilegality is socially significant and productive, raising the value of such crops for farmers and traders, but also allowing states to police or not police these substances as their interests and instincts dictate. It also argues that there is no clear link between the law on the statute book and the actual harm potential of these substances. Finally, it suggests that the concept has much wider use beyond these case studies of drugs in Africa in a world where global consensus on drug policy is cracking, and where many other objects of trade and activities find themselves in the blurred territory of the quasilegal.

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© 2017 Informa UK Limited. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

    Research areas

  • Africa, Quasilegality, cannabis, crime, drug and policy, khat

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