A COUPLE who were allegedly selling the leaves of a common and legally grown plant will face drug charges in a West Australian court.
Police say the 40-year-old man and his 37-year-old wife, from Thornlie in Perth's east, were caught with more than 30kg of khat after a search of their home this week.
Officers raided the home after the discovery of 7.5kg of khat in three parcels being sent to the couple by post.
Another 25kg of the plant was found in the home, along with an amount of cash, police spokesman Sergeant Greg Lambert said.
Sgt Lambert said that while growing khat in Australia was legal, removing and using the leaves was not.
He said the plant, which is chewed as a stimulant in many areas of eastern Africa, is common in Perth, particularly in the western suburbs.
"It grows legally, but cultivating its leaves is illegal," Sgt Lambert.
"We have dealt with quite a few cases of trespass where people have scaled fences or gone onto properties to try to grab the plant's leaves."
He said the Thornlie case was unusual because of the large amount involved.
Both of the accused have been charged with attempting to possess a prohibited drug with intent to sell or supply, possession with intent to sell or supply and unlawful possession.
They were bailed to appear in Armadale Magistrates Court on December 3.
Wikipedia says khat is native to east Africa and the Arabian peninsula and is also known as qat, qaat, quat, gat, jaad, chat, chad, chaad and miraa, depending on the country in which it is found.
Containing the active agents cathinone and cathine, it remains legal in the UK but is banned throughout Europe and north America, Cathinone is a prohibited drug in Australia, while cathine is restricted to prescription use or supply by a doctor.
According to a BBC report on the drug, khat users say the substance gives them a mellow high, while some describe it as a cross between cannabis and cocaine.
Students and taxi drivers say its stimulatory effects enable them to stay awake during long hours of work.
November 18, 2009