What you need to know about khat—East Africa's favorite drug.
This June a Somali-American woman named Zemzem Seraj was charged by Nashville Police with felony possession of nearly 200 pounds of khat. Her mugshot—a middle aged Tennessean in an elegant seafoam headscarf—was broadcast all over local news.
Sometimes called "tea of the Arabs," khat acts as a stimulant when chewed. The flowering plant is banned in most western countries including United States and some European countries but is popular and legally consumed in the the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Many contend that khat use goes back thousands of years, arguing that it's a perfectly safe drug when used in moderation. Others, including many from communities that use it the most, believe that it can cause major harm.