Records confirm that for the past 500 years or more, khat (Catha edulis) has been cultivated in the highlands of Yemen, Ethiopia, and Kenya, where the stimulant effects of the leaves are much enjoyed. Consumption was traditionally subject to cultural conventions, which have been suspended in recent years, under the impact of market forces and modern transport. There is now an ongoing debate over finding an adequate system of regulation, in part inspired by international drug control agencies.

The effects of khat are often described as like those of a naturally occurring amphetamine. It gives users a short period of intense clarity and loquacious sociability, followed by a more reflective and melancholic state, which finally gives way to a depressive state. The leaves of the plant ...

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