Pubdate: Thu, 13 Jul 2000
Source: Saint Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
Copyright: 2000 St. Paul Pioneer Press
Contact:  345 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55101


The Minnesota Court of Appeals has made it easier to prosecute people who 
possess khat, a leafy substance chewed primarily by Somali men that 
contains a substance classified as an illegal drug.

In a ruling Tuesday, the appellate panel said prosecutors don't have to 
show through testing the amount of cathinone present in khat. Defense 
attorneys argued that the state needed to prove enough of the drug's active 
ingredient was present to stimulate the central nervous system.

The ruling affects six drug possession cases in Hennepin County.

Hennepin County District Judge Robert Lynn ruled in November that testing 
didn't need to distinguish between the positive and negative chemical 
components of cathinone, because both have a stimulating effect.

The usual dose of khat is about a half-pound. Cathinone is absorbed through 
an individual's cheeks. It produces effects similar to those of 
amphetamines, including higher blood pressure, headaches and hyperactivity.

Cathinone in khat is ranked by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 
the same category as heroin.

Although a conviction for possessing khat doesn't result in prison time, 
the threat for a non-U.S. resident is deportation.
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