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Khat or qat (Amharic: ጫት ch’at; Oromo: Jimaa, Somali: qaad, jaat, khaad or khat, Arabic: القات al-qāt, Swahili: miraa, jaba or aluta) is a flowering plant native to eastern and southern Africa. Khat contains the alkaloid cathinone, a stimulant which causes greater sociability, excitement, loss of appetite, and mild euphoria. Among communities from the areas where the plant is native, khat-chewing has historical relevance (as a social custom, especially among men) dating back thousands of years, analogous—but slightly different—to the use of coca leaves in South America’s Andes Mountains or the betel nut preparations in South Asia; khat is often chewed socially, to stimulate conversation among groups of men in a lounge, smoking hookah. Since 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies khat as a “drug of abuse” that can produce psychological dependence, although the WHO does not consider khat addiction to be a serious or global problem.The legality of khat varies by region and country; in many territories, khat might pass “under-the-radar” as a botanical species (thus not be a specifically-controlled substance), but its recreational use may, nevertheless, be illegal under more general laws. It is strictly a controlled substance in many regions, often at the highest degree, including in Australia, Canada, the European Union, India, Jordan, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Kingdom (UK). In the United States (US) and Turkey, the botanical specimen (plant) Catha edulis is not outrightly banned, but the consumption and distribution of harvested leaves or possession for recreational use is illegal. In the UAE, the punishment for possession, use, or distribution of khat can include life imprisonment; by contrast, its production, sale, and consumption are all fully legal—or not mentioned in a legal context at all—in the nations where its use is culturally significant, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen. In Israel, which hosts a population of Yemenite Jews, only the consumption of the plant's leaves in its natural state is permitted.
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