Field of Science

Khat - more dope stupidity

Khat consists of the leaves and young stems of Catha edulis, a shrub from the horn of Africa, where for centuries, wads of the leaves have been chewed for their stimulating effect. Rather than being elicit, khat is consumed in a socially acceptable manner like coffee is here. A news article from some weeks back from the Chi-town Trib reports that some poor mope was picked up at O'Hare with 90 pounds of khat.  The article uses the following phrases to describe the haul: "illegal African substance" and "leafy drug".  First, let's make things clear. Plants harbor a number of toxic substances, and depending upon the type of chemical and the dosage, they can be stimulants or depressants, poisonous or medically beneficial, pain-killers. Only the last category are narcotic (sleep-inducing) depressants. Khat falls into the stimulant category and is used similarly to how we use coffee and tobacco, except both caffeine and nicotine are more addictive. A local candy maker sells a dark chocolate bark, a source of theobromine (similar to caffeine), filled with ground up coffee beans in it. TPP can say with certainty it will give you a euphoric buzz, as will a really strong cup of coffee. No credible reason exists for khat being considered either dangerous or a drug, but that poor fellow will undoubtedly get a Joliet vacation for his ignorance of stupid laws. Even more amusing was the estimated worth: $12,000. Who wants to buy it so badly as all that? Who will get a promotion for this drug bust?  Khat is dirt cheap in any market in east Africa. Remember your first taste of coffee?  Khat isn't so pleasant; it's a real acquired taste. Remember way back when the USA had some military adventures going on in Somalia? Our armed forces got written warnings about "drug-crazed militias" of war lords, and it was khat they were referring to. A med-evac reservist in one of my classes showed me the communication, and then marveled at the military intelligence involved. At a certain point you wonder what and who is the dope here. What a waste of tax dollars. 

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