The present scenario of buying Khat in the United States
Off late, the availability of Khat, a stimulant drug has increased in the United States. The amount of Khat seized by federal law enforcement officers has increased from 14 metric tons in 1995 to 37 metric tons in 2001. Even in the first 6 months of the year 2002, the federal officers seized some 30 metric tons of the drug. In the United States, people of Ethiopian, Somali and Yemeni descent are the main transporters of Khat.
Khat or Qat is a flowering shrub native to northeast Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The plants grow from 2 to 12 feet high and are grown among crops like legumes, peaches, coffee or papayas. The fresh leaves of the plant contain Cathinone which is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act in the United States. Qat leaves are chewed to get a feeling of euphoria. It also contains Cathine which is a Schedule IV drug and are considered a low potential for abuse and are currently used for medical purposes in the country.
Khat abuse in US
In US, Qat is mostly prevalent among the Somalian, Yemeni and Ethiopian population. Abuse levels are high in cities where these populations are high like Columbus, Kansas City, Boston, Minneapolis, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, Dallas and Washington, D.C. Law enforcement reports have also indicated that other groups in these areas have also started getting addicted to the drug.
Effects of Khat
Qat is basically chewed just like tobacco. After the ingestion of Qat, the user experiences a feeling of euphoria, an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. According to abusers, the leafy narcotic lifts spirit, increases energy and sharpens thinking. The effects of the drug generally begin some 90 minutes and 3 hours after the ingestion of the drug. Repeated use of the drug can lead to paranoia, manic behavior with grandiose delusions, hallucinations and may also cause damage to respiratory, circulatory, nervous and digestive systems.
How is Khat transported to the US
Qat transportation should be quick as the leaves tend to loose its effect after 48 hours. That is why, Khat is transported mostly in US from Canada and Great Britain through package delivery services and sometimes through couriers aboard commercial aircraft. Khat is also transported from Canada through private vehicle. Often, Qat smugglers use different tricks to avoid law enforcement checking during shipping the drug through package delivery services.
The increasing amount of Qat seizures indicates the increasing popularity of Khat in the United States. Abuse of the narcotic is mostly prevalent among the people of Somalian, Yemeni and Ethiopian descent. But recent law enforcement reports have indicated the use of Khat by Caucasian individuals too.
khat has become a growing concern for the law enforcement agencies in the United States because of its increasing availability.