Concerns over African methamphetamine-like drug in Hamilton
December 13, 2006
By Simon O'Rourke
Hamilton Police are concerned an African plant with methamphetamine-like effects is being imported into New Zealand.
Last week 10 kilos of the plant khat (pronounced cot or chat) were discovered during searches of two houses in Claudelands, Hamilton.
Khat is plant material from the catha edulis tree, a native to north-east Africa.
It is also known as African tea.
Detective Sergeant Karl Thornton says khat is a Class C controlled drug in New Zealand, as is cannabis.
Usually chewed, brewed as a tea, or smoked, it is popular in African and Middle Eastern countries.
Police believed it was being used by some immigrant communities in New Zealand.
Mr Thornton said major concerns centred on the fact the drug was finding its way into the country.
The haul found in Hamilton late last week was believed to have been imported.
It was found packaged in 100g bags.
In one house, 80 bags were found and 20 bags were found in another house.
"This is a drug that is widely accepted and available amongst several communities around the world, but is highly illegal here. It has qualities similar to methamphetamine and is highly addictive," Mr Thornton said.
"We have concerns about people driving or operating machinery while under the influence of this drug and there are also some major psychological effects that can result from using it."
The quantity of khat seized had a potential street value of $10-20,000, Police said.