Charges: 85 pounds of khat taken from Eagan man at Chicago airport

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Prosecutors in Chicago say customs agents at O'Hare International Airport seized more than 85 pounds of the illegal drug khat from a 20-year-old Eagan man over the weekend.

The Chicago Tribune says a judge set bail at $20,000 for Dominic Running, who reportedly told authorities he'd purchased the drug in England and did not realize it was illegal. Authorities estimated the street value of the khat at more than $12,000, the Tribune reports.

The website DNAinfo Chicago reports Running posted bond Sunday and was released with electronic monitoring.

Khat is a plant native to northeastern Africa that acts as a stimulant when its leaves are chewed. In 2010 Minnesota's court of appeals upheld the law outlawing the drug. A story in the Winona Daily News at that time said the Drug Enforcement Administration has compared the effects of khat to those of cocaine and methamphetime.

But khat is not as well understood as some other drugs. The University of Minnesota is working with the National Institutes of Health on a study focusing on the behavioral and health effects of khat use, which is most common among immigrants from Africa and the Middle East.

Here's a bulletin the Justice Department issued ten years ago, when khat started showing up more regularly in the U.S.

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