(CNN) -- It's an oval-shaped, bitter tasting leaf that makes you chatty after chewing it, while inducing a feeling of euphoria and alertness. The East African plant khat, a mild narcotic, has been chewed for centuries by people in the Horn of Africa and parts of the Middle East for its stimulating effects. The green leaf is central to cultural and social activities for many communities across the area and key to the economic survival of thousands of khat farmers who grow it legally. In recent years, high demand for the herbal stimulant by the Somali diaspora -- despite it being illegal in several western countries, including the U.S. -- has helped open up a booming industry in fertile parts of Kenya, such as the Meru county. But now the livelihood of these farmers is under threat after the Netherlands, which has a vibrant Somali community and is a key khat hub to other European countries, announced a ban on all imports of the plant in January. Until now, the Netherlands and Britain were the only major European countries allowing the trade and consumption of the flowering shrub. Is narcotic khat funding terrorism? - CNN.com what? how are legal highs etc at the top of the gov't ban list, yet this shit is freely available on a London market stall?