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Pendl, E; Pauritsch, U; Kollroser, M; Schmid, MG.
Determination of cathinone and cathine in Khat plant material by LC-MS/MS: Fresh vs. dried leaves.
Forensic Sci Int. 2021; 319:110658-110658 Doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2020.110658
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Kollroser Manfred

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The consumption of Khat leaves represents an ancient kind of drug abuse mainly observed in Eastern Africa and the Arab Peninsula among adult men. For this purpose, the leaves are directly collected from the shrub "Catha edulis" prior to extensive chewing process. Seizures in Europe are rare, since the leaves have to undergo quick transportation: After a short period of time, the harvested leaves decompose and suffer in decrease of concentration of the active ingredient cathinone, which makes long term transportation difficult. As an alternative, plant material can be dried to increase life period. In the past years, an increasing number of seizures were made by Austrian police, however, the content of cathinone and cathine in dry material is widely unknown. In this work, a seizure of fresh Khat leaves was compared with two seizures of dried material in terms of concentration of cathinone and cathine using LC-MS/MS analysis. For fresh leaves, a purity grade was found to be 0.115-0.158% for cathinone and 0.172-0.192% for cathine, respectively. In contrast, subsequent storage of dried Khat leaves over months led to a dramatic loss of cathinone: Analysis of two seizures revealed that concentration of cathinone dropped to 0.021-0.023%. These findings are intended to serve as a guideline for Justice authorities to estimate the content of the controlled ingredients of Khat leaves in future. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Catha edulis
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