By Alfa · Jun 5, 2005 ·
  1. Alfa

    Too Much Khat Can Lead To Violent Behaviour

    Calgary police seized about 121 kilograms of an unusual drug in two separate searches Monday.

    Catha edulis -- known as "khat" -- is a leaf drug usually chewed fresh for an effect similar to amphetamines, such as feelings of euphoria and increased alertness. Excessive consumption by users, however, can cause slurred speech, staggering and violence.

    The seizure from two homes was made more interesting, said drug unit detective Nina Vaughan, because they found the drug in dried form.

    Khat is at full potency within the first 48 hours of being picked. After that, the active ingredient begins to deteriorate, she said.

    Dried khat is either smoked or brewed into tea, she added.

    "This is the largest seizure we've made here in Calgary," Vaughan said.

    The 121 kilograms are worth about $46,000 on the street. Vaughan said it's usually sold for $30 to $40 a handful.

    The drug isn't physically addictive, she noted, but users can get psychologically hooked on khat.

    While Calgary police make a couple of khat seizures a year, Vaughan said they don't come across it very often.

    The plants are native to parts of Africa and Middle Eastern countries and are usually consumed by people from those areas. Vaughan said it isn't typically sold on the street.

    "It's not being used by a large population," she said.

    So far, there have been no cases where it has been grown outside of those native areas. In this case, the drug came to Calgary through the United States.

    Vaughan said the drug is creating some problems in countries where it's grown, including decreased productivity. She also said farmers are planting khat in their fields instead of traditional crops.

    On Monday, police searched a home in the 1300 block of 12th Avenue S.W. and seized about 39 kilograms of dried khat. They also searched a residence in the 100 block of Royal Elm Meadows N.W., where they netted 82 kilograms of the drug.

    Three people have been charged in connection with the search and seizure.

    Kamil Mohammed Ali, 40, Siraj Osman Abdi, 23, and Hibo Usso Mahammad, 21, all face one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking. Abdi and Mahammad are also facing one count each of possession of property obtained by crime.

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