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Raleigh Khat Lawyer

Khat PlantFederal and state law prohibits the distribution of khat – cathinone – a plant that is popular in parts of the Middle East and Africa for its stimulating properties.  Khat, known in Arabic as القات‎ al-qāt, is illegal under two parts of the federal drug schedules. There is no legal use for khat in the United States. Khat contains two central nervous system stimulants: cathinone–a Schedule I drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act–and cathine–a Schedule IV drug. Cathinone is the principal active stimulant; its levels are highest in fresh khat.

Khat is particularly popular in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Yemen.  The flowering leaf is known as qat and gat in Yemen, qaat and jaad in Somalia, and chat in Ethiopia.

While khat is legal in certain countries, including countries in the Middle East and Africa, it is illegal in much of the rest of the world, either by general statutes or by specific laws that place it on drug schedules and prohibit its sale.

In both the federal system and in the state of North Carolina, the possession, sale, and possession with the intent to sell or deliver khat or cathinone is illegal, and can result in lengthy jail sentences.  In fact, khat is listed on the same schedule as opiates (schedule I) in North Carolina, meaning the it is subject to the highest penalties.

In addition, the possession of khat can trigger additional civil penalties, including the seizure of money (as part of civil asset forfeiture processes) or the assessment of state unauthorized substance taxes.

Cultural Issues Related to Khat

Khat has historically been an important part of Middle Eastern cultures, a kind of stimulant (similar in its use to caffeine) that is either chewed throughout the day or steeped in water to make a kind of tea. It is also an appetite suppressant.  In the 1950s and 1960s, many American women took amphetamines as appetite suppressants and mood enhancers.  In the 1970s and 1980s, with the ramping of the drug war and drug control in the United States, amphetamines became less popular and less widely consumed – although prescriptions for drugs such as adderall remain common. Khat has a similar cultural function, which is why people in the U.S. who are found with khat are often surprised at just how harshly the crime is punished.

Immigration Issues

The prosecution for khat possession or distribution can be particularly problematic for clients who are not United States citizens.  Since drug possession and distribution cases can result in removal or prohibition from entry into the United States, it is important that khat cases are treated with the same seriousness as other sorts of drug cases.




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