Khat facts

What is khat  

Other names for Khat
  • Chat
  • Kat
  • Qat
  • Gat
  • Quat
  • Qaadka
  • Miraa
  • Oat
  • Jimma
  • Somali tea
  • Tohai
  • Tschat
  • Abyssinian tea
  • African salad
  • Bushman's tea

Khat is illegal in England and Wales.

Khat is a flowering plant native to northeast Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Individuals chew khat leaves because of the stimulant effects.

It contains cathinone, a phenethylamine substance which is said to induce mild euphoria and excitement. The stimulant properties of khat are similar to, but less powerful than, amphetamines, having the effect of speeding up your mind and body.

What does it look like?

Khat is a shrub or tree that grows to between 1.5m and 20 m tall.
The evergreen leaves are 5–10 cm long and 1–4 cm broad.

The leaves begin to deteriorate 48 hours after being cut from the plant on which they grow and the more potent chemical, cathinone, decomposes leaving behind the milder chemical, cathine.

How is it used?

Deteriorating khat leaves are yellow-green in colour.
To slow down the deteriorating, khat leaves and stems are wrapped in plastic bags or banana leaves to preserve their moisture and keep the cathinone potent.

Fresh leaves and stems are chewed or, less frequently, dried and consumed as tea.

Khat and the Law

From 24 June 2014, police will be able to use khat warnings and penalty notices for disorder (PND) for £60 to adults. This means that if the police find you with khat which is meant for your own personal use, you can:

  1. be given a warning for the first possession offence
  2. be given a penalty notice for disorder (a £60 fine) for your second possession offence
  3. face arrest for your third possession offence.