What is Khat? A stimulant. For centuries, khat, the fresh young leaves of the Catha edulis shrub, have been consumed where the plant is cultivated, primarily in East Africa and the Arabian peninsula. There, chewing khat predates the use of coffee and is used in a similar social context. Khat has been brought into the United States and other countries for use by emigrants from the source countries. It contains a number of chemicals among which are two controlled substances, cathinone and cathine. As the leaves mature or dry, cathinone is converted to cathine, which significantly reduces its stimulatory properties. Methcathinone, commonly called cat, is occasionally confused with khat. Methcathinone is a synthetic Schedule I substance that has a similar chemical structure to the cathinone in the khat plant. Methcathinone is produced in clandestine laboratories and sold as a methamphetamine alternative. The addictive properties and side effects of this synthetic are more intense than either of the naturally occurring khat substances.
What is Ketamine? Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic developed in 1963 to replace PCP and currently used in human anesthesia and veterinary medicine. Much of the ketamine sold on the street has been diverted from veterinarians’ offices. Ketamine’s chemical structure and mechanism of action are similar to those of PCP.