Is miraa a drug? Categorizing Kenyan khat

Neil Carrier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the varied perceptions of the substance miraa/khat in Kenya, from strong approval in the Nyambene Hills region where it is cultivated to the strong disapproval evident in its frequent denunciation in various segments of Kenyan society. Perceptions are colored by various local and global discourses, and it is argued that of great importance is "war on drugs" rhetoric, which allows the conflation of miraa with other substances also termed "drugs"; much of the Kenyan miraa debate revolves around just how miraa should be categorized and to whether it can be labeled a "drug." War-on-drugs rhetoric is countered by those more enamored of the substance by discourse in which its use is labeled "traditional," "cool," and an "economic miracle."

Original languageEnglish
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


  • Kenya
  • Khat
  • Miraa
  • Substance use

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