The government on Tuesday officially banned the consumption and sale of khat.
According to a directive published on Tuesday by the Health Ministry, the import, export, sale and use of khat has now been prohibited.
The ministry said that khat is a plant matter that contains the chemicals cathine and cathinone, which are already illegal under Cambodia’s anti-drug laws.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng said on Tuesday that the directive is to be implemented immediately.
“Those who use, sell, export and import the plant are going to be punished in accordance to the provisions of the law on drug control,” Mr Bunheng said.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, khat is a plant containing chemicals that create a sense of euphoria when consumed. It said that the chemicals affect the brain, heart rate and blood pressure.
The plant is native to countries in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. However, in recent years, the plant has made its way to several countries in Southeast Asia. Se Mara, an anti-drug department deputy chief, said that the plant has appeared in Cambodia.
“Khat is found to be present in Cambodia and it is a drug, so it has to be banned,” Mr Mara said.
According to a National Authority For Combating Drugs report published this year, there were 8,173 drug cases recorded last year, a 92.48 percent increase when compared to 2016.
Last month, more than 296 kilos of drugs were confiscated and destroyed by authorities, including methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin.