Khat: Morphine and National Drug Intelligence

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Khat/Qat Drug
Catha edulis or Khat (Qat) is a natural drug derived from the Celastrus edulis plant which is a shrub that can grow to the size of a tree and could reach a height of about 10 to 20 feet with leaves resembling those of basil leaves. Its content makes it a compound similar to that of Amphetamines that produce excitation, banish sleep and promote communication. According to (2003), when used in moderation, khat is used as away to alleviate fatigue and to reduce appetite. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Khat was able to reach the American society through the immigrants, who in their countries have used khat for medical purposes. However, as it turned out, the potential abuse of khat has led other people to use it in excess of the normal dosage. Khat, also known in 40 other street names including Chat, Ku-es-Salahin., Mirra, Tohai, Tschat, Catha, Quat, African Tea, and African salad is also used to chase away hunger and exhaustion (Khat, n.d.). A Bundle of Khat

According to Lewin, Khat originated in Ethiopia until its sue spread to Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, the Congo, Zimbabwe and Zambia and the rest of South Africa. The earliest use of Khat has been recorded in Yemen wherein Khat is mainly used before coffee became popular (Khat, n.d.). In the United States, the use of Khat has also become prevalent but majority of the users are persons coming for the areas of Somalia, Yemen and in other countries whether Khat originated and its use widely accepted (Khat Fast Facts, n.d.). This si why the Drug Enforcement Administration reported a sizable increase in khat abuse in cities where there are known increase in immigrant population from Somalia, Yemen, and Ethiopia. These cities include Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas, New York, and Washington. What is more alarming that there have also been found evidence that even non-immigrants has started using and abusing the use of khat (National Drug Intelligence Center, n.d.). As it is provided by Galkin and Mironychev (1964), about 80 percent of the adult population in Yemen use Khat. They take Khat by chewing on the leaves of the Khat, which can cause the initial effects of dizziness and epigastric pain (Khat, n.d.). When someone takes Khat, he experiences a feeling of euphoria and extreme energy. However, it is also said that Khat can create feelings of depression and sleepiness (Khat, n.d.). The chemical composition of Khat includes primarily of the compounds cathinine, cathine, and cathidine. Cathine is an alkaloid found in Ephedra vulgaris. Khat is also rich in ascorbic acid (Khat, n.d.). Typical Khat leaves are “crimson-brown and glossy but become yellow-green and leathery as they age” (Khat, n.d.).

The intake of Khat can have varying effects on humans and animals. Among humans, Khat can stimulate the “feeling of being liberated from space and time” (Khat, n.d.). This is a feeling commonly associated with the use of other known drugs that contain amphetamines. In animals, it can cause to improve motor activity causing the animals to move every now and then (Khat, n.d.). In a way, this can be likened to a similar effect on humans wherein the Khat can create a feeling of excitation which can also manifest in increased motor activity.

Traditionally, Khat leaves are used a religious drugs by the early tribes of East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Middle East (Khat, n.d.). Khat is normally packed in bundles using plastic bags or banana leaves so that the natural moisture of the leaves can be maintained because it can loss potency within 48 hours (Khat, n.d.).

Today, more than a religious drug, the Drug Enforcement Administration classified Khat as a schedule IV substance and eventually a schedule I narcotic which is considered as the most restrictive category used by the agency (Khat, n.d.). This only means that the drug has high potential of abuse and could...
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