Khat is a popular flowering plant originating from Ethiopia, but what makes it so popular? Glad you asked. Khat is no ordinary plant - it’s a stimulant. This means that people can chew it to get high, hence the high level of interest in a plant. So apparently the rules of popularity have changed. Now all you need to do to get someone interested is be a legal high; if only it were that simple in sixth form. But enough of the pity party, it’s time to get to know the new kid on the block.

A young man is sitting at a desk. He is looking at his phone. He is researching khat. This is a full-body image.

What is khat (UK)? 

This high is a leafy green shrub with an active component containing stimulant properties. Fresh leaves are often chewed in parts of East Africa and the Middle East, but now they’ve made their way into Europe.

In the UK,  it’s occasionally imported in twig-like bunches for sale in some greengrocers and specialist health food shops. But you should know that the leaves have a withered appearance and lose a lot of their stimulant potency just a few days after being picked.

What is the effect of the khat drug

Now that we’ve answered the basic ‘What is khat’ , it’s time to get into some details. Taking it is kinda like being on any other stimulant. Here are some things that could happen to you: 

  • Increase in alertness, confidence and concentration. The plant also makes users more talkative.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Even though the high has stimulant effects, users can achieve a state of calm following a few hours of chewing.

What are the risks of chewing qat?  

Although it can give you a buzz, there are still major risks involved in taking the khat drug. Here’s some side effects you can expect to experience:

  • Increased anxiety and insomnia.
  • Some think that khat use can leave people feeling irritable and prone to aggression.
  • A psychological dependence can develop when the drug is used on a regular basis.
  • Long term use is associated with increased incidence of oral cancer.

Is Khat legal in the UK? 

Until recently, the khat plant wasn’t classified as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act, so the Home Office wouldn’t be on your case if you had any. But as of June 2014 it became a Class C Drug. This means that possession will get you 2 years in prison and an unlimited fine. If you’re possessing with intent to distribute, multiply that sentence by 7. 

To find out more about Khat and the law, visit DrugWise (and tell ‘em The Mix sent you). 

Other terms for khat include: 

Quat, qat, qaadka, chat, miraa

If you’re planning on taking it: 

  • Remember it tends to discolour teeth, so you might wanna book an extra appointment with the dentist. 
  • Saliva is stimulated by chewing khat, which means users feel the need to spit a lot during use.
  • Avoid mixing with other drugs during or after a khat chewing session, as the combined effects can be unpredictable and even dangerous. You can always read our article to find out more about mixing drugs. 

Next Steps


drugs a-z

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 06-Sep-2021