Monday, August 27, 2007

Millennial Challenges: Managing Mood Altering Drugs and the impact of Chat and Coffee and alcohol etc

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-;

Dear Patriotic Global Citizens and Frinds of Ethiopia;

Managing excitement and euphoria that is instigated by plant chemicals is making a serious challenge to the social and economic fabric of the Horn of Africa.

The medical community and especially the WHO has designated Chat or Catha edulis as a drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence. The plant has been targeted by anti-drug organizations like the DEA.[1] It is a controlled/illegal substance in many countries.

The Horn of Africa and middle east use it as a daily recreational drug and has come to impact the social and economic life of the region as the attached article shows.

We have attached the medical literature and the legal status of the plant around the world to highlight some of the challenges and opportunities of using or abusing this plant.

First the news from the Horn and then the medical literature to alert our communities about the dangers of this rather mild stimulant narcotic drug on the productivity, wellbeing and wellfare of our communities around the world.

It is critical parents, teachers and community leaders are aware of the dangers of this plant and have a strategy on advising the youth, the fountain of our future on how to respond to this ever increasing global challenge.

The Djibouti Experience.

Narcotic khat dominates Djibouti life
Mon 27 Aug 2007

Jack Kimball
DJIBOUTI, Aug 27 (Reuters) - In a dusty room filled with pillows, eight men sit beside small piles of plant stems and cigarette packets, munching mouthfuls of green narcotic leaves.

Pinching off more emerald foliage and stuffing it into his mouth, Isaac Abdel says khat is a way of life in east Africa.

"This khat has become the petrol of east Africa," the jobless 42-year-old says, showing his green teeth and holding up the plant he chews every day.

Illegal in many Western nations, the leaf gives the chewer a mild amphetamine-like high.

It is a shrub typically grown in Ethiopia and Kenya and chewed by people throughout the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. In Djibouti, it is endemic.

Flights from neighbouring Ethiopia arrive every day carrying the plant that is then sold in small shops across the country.

The tiny Red Sea state imports 11 tonnes of khat daily, spending $170 million a year, the United Nations says.

Taking a sip of water to wash out a mouthful of the bitter-tasting leaves, one chewer says it takes about an hour to chew through one kilo of khat, or $5 worth.

Occasionally glancing up to watch a nature show on television, transit worker Jama Hassan says khat keeps people in this mainly Muslim nation from drinking and fighting.

"It is part of culture. It is a heritage from our ancestors. We use it everyday to keep us together. We don't have to go to bad places like to bars," the 42-year-old says.

Every day, crowds of Djiboutian men flock to houses and cafes across the country to chew quietly with friends. In the afternoon when the chewing begins, the city's streets are empty.

"There's a high in your body. When we're not working, we're chatting and chewing," says Ethiopian Ragi Absalam, 28, another transit worker.

But like alcohol and drugs in the West, khat is addictive and has taken a social toll.


It is afternoon in the tiny port city and men in green taxis with white stripes mill around nervously waiting for today's khat delivery. The shipment is late, and people are edgy.

But in a nation where 60 percent of the 820,000 population is unemployed, many chew away as much as 10 percent to 20 percent of their salary, and residents complain that fathers abandon homes and children for half the day, every day.

Despite this, Djibouti managed a 4.8 percent GDP growth in 2006 mainly due to increased port activity. But the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says khat chewing is hurting labour productivity as most activities stop in the afternoon.

Finally, the truck arrives, but any nervousness is quickly replaced by a frantic rush to the drop-off point.

Men in neon vests toss a seemingly endless supply of khat bags down to expecting sellers, who then speed off to town to resell the white bags to khat vendors.

Analysts say Djibouti's unemployment estimates could be lower if the informal sector -- including the orbit of workers around the use and sale of khat -- were factored in.

Taxi driver Jama Hassan says running shipments of khat to the city is the only job he could find.

"We get 5,000 francs ($28) a day but almost all is taken in gas. I take home about 2,000," the 60-year-old says. "This car isn't even mine. I took this job, because I was jobless," the father of eight children says.

(Additional reporting by Omar Hassan Awale)


The Medical and Legal Perspective

Catha edulis; Scientific classification ;

Kingdom: Plantae; Division: Magnoliophyta; Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Celastrales; Family: Celastraceae; Genus: Catha

Species: C. edulis

Binomial name Catha edulis; (Vahl) Forssk. ex Endl.

Khat (Catha edulis, family Celastraceae, Ge'ez ጫት č̣āt; Arabic: قات; Somali: Jaad; IPA: [kat]), and also known as qat, gat, chat, and miraa), is a flowering plant native to tropical East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Believed to have originated in Ethiopia, it is a shrub or small tree growing to 5–8 m tall, with evergreen leaves 5–10 cm long and 1–4 cm broad. The flowers are produced on short axillary cymes 4–8 cm long, each flower small, with five white petals. The fruit is an oblong three-valved capsule containing 1–3 seeds.

Khat contains the alkaloid cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant which causes excitement and euphoria. In 1980 the World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence, and the plant has been targeted by anti-drug organizations like the DEA.[1] It is a controlled/illegal substance in many countries.

Contents [hide]
1 History
2 Cultivation and uses
3 Chemistry/pharmacology
4 Effects
5 User population
6 Control status
6.1 World
6.2 Australia
6.3 Canada
6.4 France
6.5 Germany
6.6 Hong Kong
6.7 Israel
6.8 New Zealand
6.9 Norway
6.10 Somalia
6.11 Sweden
6.12 Switzerland
6.13 United Kingdom
6.14 United States
7 See also
8 References
9 Notes
10 External links


The origins of khat are often argued. Many believe that they are Ethiopian in nature, from where it spread to the hillsides of East Africa and Yemen. Others believe that khat originated in Yemen before spreading to Ethiopia and nearby countries. Sir Richard Burton (First Footsteps in East Africa, 1856) explains that khat was introduced to the Yemen from Ethiopia in the 15th century.

There is also evidence to suggest this may have occurred as early as the 13th century. Through botanical analysis, Revri (1983) supports Yemen origins of the plant.[2] From Ethiopia and Yemen the trees spread to Kenya, Somalia, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Arabia, the Congo, what are now Zimbabwe and Zambia, and South Africa.[3] The earliest recorded use of khat medically is believed to be within the New Testament.[4]

The ancient Egyptians considered the khat plant a "divine food" which was capable of releasing humanity's divinity. The Egyptians used the plant for more than its stimulating effects. They used it as a metamorphic process and transcended into "apotheosis", intending to make the user god-like.[5]

In 1854, the Malay writer Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir noted that the custom of chewing Khat was prevalent in Al Hudaydah in Yemen: "I observed a new peculiarity in this city—everyone chewed leaves as goats chew the cud. There is a type of leaf, rather wide and about two fingers in length, which is widely sold, as people would consume these leaves just as they are; unlike betel leaves, which need certain condiments to go with them, these leaves were just stuffed fully into the mouth and munched.

Thus when people gathered around, the remnants from these leaves would pile up in front of them. When they spat, their saliva was green. I then queried them on this matter: ‘What benefits are there to be gained from eating these leaves?’ To which they replied, ‘None whatsoever, it’s just another expense for us as we’ve grown accustomed to it’. Those who consume these leaves have to eat lots of ghee and honey, for they would fall ill otherwise. The leaves are known as Kad."[6]

In the town of Bohmensaka, South Africa the consumption of this product has been noted to date back as late as the 1500's. Tribes would chew on these at festivals and large gatherings. Khat was a delicacy to the natives and was customary to their nature.

Cultivation and uses

Bundles of khat, captured by the DEA in July, 2006Khat has been grown for use as a stimulant for centuries in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. There, chewing khat predates the use of coffee and is used in a similar social context.

Its fresh leaves and tops are chewed or, less frequently, dried and consumed as tea, in order to achieve a state of euphoria and stimulation. Due to the availability of rapid, inexpensive air transportation, the drug has been reported in England, Rome, Amsterdam, Canada, Australia, New Zealand[7] and the United States.

The public has become more aware of this exotic drug through media reports pertaining to the United Nations mission in Somalia, where khat use is widespread, and its role in the Persian Gulf. The khat plant is known by a variety of names, such as qat and ghat in Yemen, chat in Ethiopia, jaad in Somalia and miraa in Kenya and Tanzania.

Khat use has traditionally been confined to the regions where khat is grown, because only the fresh leaves have the desired stimulating effects. In recent years improved roads, off-road motor vehicles and air transport have increased the global distribution of this perishable commodity.

Traditionally, khat has been used as a socializing drug, and this is still very much the case in Yemen where khat-chewing is a predominantly male habit.[8] In other countries, khat is consumed largely by single individuals and at parties.

It is mainly a recreational drug in the countries which grow khat, though it may also be used by farmers and laborers for reducing physical fatigue and by drivers and students for improving attention. Within the counter-culture segments of the Kenyan elite population, Khat (referred to as "veve") is used to counter the effects of a hangover or binge-drinking, similar to the use of the coca leaf in South America.

Cheweing Khat is not primarily a male activity in Yemen, with women having their own saloons for the occasion and partaking in cheweing Khat with thier husbands on weekends. In many places where grown, Khat has become mainstream enough for many children to start chewing the plant before puberty.

Khat is used for its mild euphoric and stimulating effects, and also has anorectic side-effects. It use is generally not limited by religion, though the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (along with its Eritrean counterpart) has forbidden Christians from using it due to its stimulating effects.

In Yemen it is so popular that 40% of the country's water supply goes towards irrigating it, with production increasing by about 10% to 15% every year.[8] The water supply of Sanaa is so threatened by the crop that government officials have even proposed relocating large portions of the city's population to the coast of the Red Sea.[8]

In Somalia, the Supreme Islamic Courts Council, which took control of much of the country in 2006, banned khat during Ramadan, sparking street protests in Kismayo. In November 2006, Kenya banned all flights to Somalia, citing security concerns, prompting protests by Kenyan khat growers.

The Kenyan MP from Ntonyiri, Meru North District stated that local land had been specialized in khat cultivation, that 20 tons worth $800,000 were shipped to Somalia daily and that a flight ban could devastate the local economy.[9] With the victory of the Provisional Government backed by Ethiopian forces in the end of December 2006, khat has returned to the streets of Mogadishu, though Kenyan traders have noted demand has not yet returned to pre-ban levels.[10]


The stimulant effect of the plant was originally attributed to "katin", cathine, a phenethylamine-type substance isolated from the plant. However, the attribution was disputed by reports showing the plant extracts from fresh leaves contained another substance more behaviorally active than cathine.

In 1975, the related alkaloid cathinone was isolated, and its absolute configuration was established in 1978. Cathinone is not very stable and breaks down to produce cathine and norephedrine. These chemicals belong to the PPA (phenylpropanolamine) family, a subset of the phenethylamines related to amphetamines and the catecholamines epinephrine and norepinephrine.[11]

Both of khat's major active ingredients -cathine and cathinone- are phenylalklamines, meaning they are in the same class of chemicals as amphetamines. In fact, cathinone and cathine have a very similar molecular structure to amphetamine.[12]

When khat leaves dry, the more potent chemical, cathinone, evaporates within 48 hours leaving behind the milder Schedule IV chemical, cathine. Thus, harvesters transport khat by packaging the leaves and stems in plastic bags or wrapping them in banana leaves to preserve their moisture and keep the cathinone potent. It is also common for them to frequently sprinkle the plant with water or use refrigeration during transportation.

When the khat leaves are chewed, cathine and cathinone are released and absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth and the lining of the stomach. The action of cathine and cathinone on the reuptake of epinephrine and norepinephrine has been demonstrated in lab animals, showing that one or both of these chemicals cause the body to recycle these neurotransmitters more slowly, resulting in the wakefulness and insomnia associated with khat use.[13]

Receptors for serotonin show a high affinity for cathinone suggesting that this chemical is responsible for feelings of euphoria associated with chewing khat. In mice, cathinone produces the same types of nervous pacing or repetitive scratching behaviors associated with amphetamines.[14] The effects of cathinone peak after 15 to 30 minutes with nearly 98% of the substance metabolized into norephedrine by the liver.[15]

Cathine is somewhat less understood, being believed to act upon the adrenergenic receptors causing the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine.[16] It has a half-life of about 3 hours in humans.


Khat consumption induces mild euphoria and excitement. Individuals become very talkative under the influence of the drug and may appear to be unrealistic and emotionally unstable. Khat can induce manic behaviors and hyperactivity. Khat is an effective anorectic and its use also results in constipation. Dilated pupils (mydriasis), which are prominent during khat consumption, reflect the sympathomimetic effects of the drug, which are also reflected in increased heart rate and blood pressure.

A state of drowsy hallucinations (hypnagogic hallucinations) may result coming down from khat use as well. Withdrawal symptoms that may follow prolonged khat use include lethargy, mild depression, nightmares, and slight tremor. Long term use can precipitate the following effects: negative impact on liver function, permanent tooth darkening (of a greenish tinge), susceptibility to ulcers, and diminished sex drive. Khat is usually not an addictive drug, although for those who are addicted they generally cannot stay without it for more than 4-5 days, also feeling tired and having difficulty concentrating.[17] However, a recent British study found khat to be less dangerous than tobacco and alcohol.[18]

User population

It is estimated that several million people are frequent users of khat. Many of the users originate from countries between Sudan and Madagascar and in the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula, especially Yemen. In Yemen, 60% of the males and 35% of the females were found to be khat users who had chewed daily for long periods of their life.

The traditional form of khat chewing in Yemen involves only male users; khat chewing by females is less formal and less frequent. In Saudi Arabia, the cultivation and consumption of khat are forbidden, and the ban is strictly enforced. The ban on khat is further supported by the clergy on the grounds that the Qur'an forbids anything that is harmful to the body. In Somalia, 61% of the population reported that they do use khat, 18% report habitual use, and 21% are occasional users. [citation needed]

Control status:World

In 1965, the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Dependence-producing Drugs' Fourteenth Report noted, "The Committee was pleased to note the resolution of the Economic and Social Council with respect to khat, confirming the view that the abuse of this substance is a regional problem and may best be controlled at that level" [4].

For this reason, khat was not Scheduled under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. In 1980 the World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence.


In Australia, the importation of khat is controlled under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. Individual users may apply for several required licenses to import up to 5 kg per month for personal use (primarily immigrants from the Horn of Africa). In 2003, the total number of khat annual permits was 294 and the total number of individual khat permits was 202.

There are two types of import permits. The single use Permit to Import can be used only once and you must request a new permit for each time you wish to import khat. Annual Permits are labeled as such and consist of two pages. Annual Permits allow you to import up to 5 kg once a month for up to twelve months.


In Canada, khat is a controlled substance under Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). Every person who seeks or obtains the substance without disclosing authorization to obtain such substances 30 days prior to obtaining another prescription from a practitioner is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months, where the subject-matter of the offence is a substance included in Schedule IV or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both, and for a subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both. [5] [6]


Khat is prohibited in France as a stimulant.[19]


In Germany, Cathine is a controlled substance, and ownership and sale of the plant is illegal. Similar levels of control exist throughout most other European countries.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, Cathine & Cathinone are regulated under Schedule 1 of Hong Kong's Chapter 134 Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. It can only be used legally by health professionals and for university research purposes.

The substance can be given by pharmacists under a prescription. Anyone who supplies the substance without prescription can be fined $10,000(HKD). The penalty for trafficking or manufacturing the substance is a $5,000,000 (HKD) fine and life imprisonment. Possession of the substance for consumption without license from the Department of Health is illegal with a $1,000,000 (HKD) fine and/or 7 years of jail time.


Khat is still used by some people of Yemeni origins. Traditionally, it is chewed on Saturday afternoons while reading the Zohar. The leaves are legal, but the cathonine extract pill called 'Hagiggat' (a joining of the Hebrew word Hagiga (party), and Gat (khat)), is currently illegal.

New Zealand

Khat plant is a Schedule 3 (Class C) drug in New Zealand, but is rarely encountered although occasional seizures at airports have been reported. Mature khat trees which were established before the plant became scheduled in 1998 do not have to be destroyed, but it is illegal to gather the leaves or otherwise prepare the plant for consumption.


Khat is classified as a narcotic drug and is illegal to use, sell and possess. Most users are Somali immigrants and khat is smuggled from the Netherlands and England.[20]


On November 17, 2006 the usage and distribution of khat was made illegal according to Somali Islamists in areas they control.[21] In Somalia, the Supreme Islamic Courts Council, which took control of much of the country in 2006, banned khat during Ramadan, sparking street protests in Kismayo.

In November 2006, Kenya banned all flights to Somalia, citing security concerns, prompting protests by Kenyan khat growers. The Kenyan MP from Ntonyiri, Meru North District stated that local land had been specialized in khat cultivation, that 20 tons worth US$800,000 were shipped to Somalia daily and that a flight ban could devastate the local economy.[22] With the surprise victory of the Provisional Government backed by Ethiopian forces in the end of December 2006, khat has returned to the streets of Mogadishu, though Kenyan traders have noted demand has not yet returned to pre-ban levels.[23]


As in Norway, khat is classified as a narcotic drug in Sweden and is illegal to use, sell and possess. According to the police, most users are Somali immigrants and most khat is smuggled in from the Netherlands and England. For more information, see the Swedish police website on khat (text in Swedish).


Khat is prohibited in Switzerland as a stimulant.[24]

United Kingdom

Khat is not a controlled substance in the United Kingdom. Because of this, and because of khat's short shelf life, the UK serves as a main gateway for khat being sent by air to North America.[7]

Khat is used by members of the Somali and Yemeni community (mainly men), which is concentrated in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield. It is currently legal, although there are calls from some sections of the Somali community for it to be banned. In the UK, Cathine and Cathinone are Class C drugs. The plant Catha edulis is uncontrolled.

United States

In the United States, Cathine is in Schedule IV and cathinone is in Schedule I of the U.S. Controlled Substance Act. The 1993 DEA rule placing cathinone in Schedule I noted that it was effectively also banning khat:

Cathinone is the major psychoactive component of the plant Catha edulis (khat). The young leaves of khat are chewed for a stimulant effect. Enactment of this rule results in the placement of any material which contains cathinone into Schedule I.

In July, 2006, the DEA executed Operation Somalia Express, an 18-month investigation which resulted in the coordinated takedown of a 44-member international trafficking organization responsible for smuggling more than 25 tons of khat (estimated by the DEA to be worth more than $10 million) from the Horn of Africa to the United States. In the United States of America, a senior FBI spokesperson has argued for its ban on the grounds that the smuggling of khat funds terrorists organizations in the Middle East.[25]

The indictment represents the largest khat-trafficking prosecution in United States history.

A large amount of khat was recently discovered in Smyrna, Delaware. Smyrna police on Friday, March 16, 2007 raided a storage room at Sentinel Self Storage after receiving information that a man was storing illegal drugs at that location. Upon making entry into the room, police say they seized 704¼ pounds of suspected Khat, with an estimated street value of approximately $211,275.[26]

On May 17, 2007 200 lbs. of Khat was found in a self storage facility in Louisville, KY.

Qat in Yemen


Hilton-Taylor (1998). Catha edulis. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
"Somali Islamists are gone -- so "khat" is back!", Reuters, January 2 2007
Dale Pendell, Pharmakodynamis: Stimulating Plants, Potions and Herbcraft: Excitantia and Empathogenica, San Francisco: Mercury House, 2002.

[edit] Notes
^ DEA. "2006 in Pictures".
^ [1]
^ "Khat Information"
^ "Adverse effects of Khat: A review" 01 December 2006
^ [2]
^ Ché-Ross, Raimy. MUNSHI ABDULLAH'S VOGAGE TO MECCA: A PRELIMINARY INTRODUCTION AND ANNOTATED TRANSLATION. Indonesia & the Malay World; Jul2000, Vol. 28 Issue 81, p196
^ a b c Yemen's khat habit soaks up water by Alex Kirby. Written 2007-4-7. Accessed 2007-4-8.
^ "Kenya bans all flights to Somalia", BBC News, 13 November 2006
^ It is widley believed that Somali militia fighters loyal to Mohamed Farrah Aidid were under the influence of khat during the first battle of Mogadishu."Somali Islamists are gone -- so "khat" is back!", Reuters, 2 January 2007
^ (01.01.07). Complete Khat Info.
^ Adverse Effects of Khat: A Review.
^ [ Biochemical Effects of Catha edulis, Cathine and Cathinone on Adrenocortical Functions].
^ [ Behavioral Effects of Cathinone].
^ Adverse Effects of Khat: A Review.
^ Cathin, an Amphetamine Related Compound, Acts on Mammalian Spermatozoa via Adrenergic Receptors in a Capacitation State-Dependent Manner.
^ (01.01.07). Complete Khat Info.
^ House of Commons. Drug classification: making a hash of it?.
^ (01.01.07). Complete Khat Info.
^ NOVA paper 1/06 (16.03.07).
^ [3]
^ "Kenya bans all flights to Somalia", BBC News, 13 November 2006
^ "Somali Islamists are gone -- so "khat" is back!", Reuters, 2 January 2007
^ (01.01.07). Complete Khat Info.
^ FBI. "International Drug Trafficking and Terrorism".
^ DEA. "2006 in Pictures".

[edit] External links
How to chew qat
BBC News: In pictures... growing khat, Complete Khat Information
Esquire "High in Hell"
Erowid Khat Vault
Growing Catha Edulis (Khat)
BBC: Getting to grips with khat in Somaliland
BBC: Harmless habit or dangerous drug?
Australian Government : Therapeutic Goods Administration Khat Importation Kit
Dozens Arrested Nationwide in Drug Case
Qat news page - Alcohol and Drugs History Society (ADHS)
Khat news page (ADHS)
Seattle arrest - Khat and the Somalian community
Village Voice article on khat
Retrieved from ""
Categories: Articles to be merged since July 2007 | Accuracy disputes | Least Concern species | All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements since February 2007 | Amphetamines | Celastraceae | Flora of Somalia | Trees of Africa | Herbal and fungal stimulants

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