Background on Khat


"The khat shrub (Catha edulis) of the celastraceae family is a plant native to the horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Khat chewing is a social custom in the communities living in these areas. The psychoactive effects resulting from the release of cathinone and cathine alkaloids after chewing of khat are well-documented.78 The khat shrub became known to Europeans in the late 18th century and in the 19th century, and the active constituents of the plant were isolated in the 19th and 20th century. A ‘katin’ alkaloid was identified first in 1887, ‘cathine’ in 1930 and ‘cathinone’ in 1975.79
"In Europe and North America, khat was considered to be traditionally used by migrant communities from Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Yemen, but in recent years its use has spread beyond these communities. Respondents to the UNODC questionnaire on NPS from Bahrain, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, United States and Hong Kong (China) reported that khat emerged on their markets in 2009, and was the second most popular plant based substance, after salvia divinorum, reported by Member States from 2009 to 2012.
"Catha edulis is not under international drug control, but cathinone and cathine are listed in Schedules I and III, respectively, of the 1971 Convention. Khat is under national control in several countries."


UN Office on Drugs and Crime, "The Challenge of New Psychoactive Substances: A Report from the Global SMART Programme" (Vienna, Austria: UNODC Laboratory and Scientific Section, March 2013), p. 13.