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Hagigat (cathinone) and amphetamines of all kinds were added to the official list of "illegal dangerous drugs" on Monday by the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee.
In street terminology, these drugs go by different names, such as "new-generation hagigat," "khat Eden" or "Red Riding Hood," and until now have been available at some kiosks in Tel Aviv.
Hagigat pills, sold on the street as a "natural stimulant" for about NIS 60 each, contain synthetic cathinone, whose natural component is found in the khat plant and which has an amphetamine-like effect.
Although hagigat is now prohibited, khat remains legal, as it is grown and the leaves have been chewed for centuries by Yemenite Jews, Arabs and others. Possession, sale or use of cathinone and amphetamines will become illegal within a month of the publication of the committee's order.
The committee decision came after a rise in the number of users who have been harmed by hagigat and hospitalized. The Health Ministry explained that the outlawed substances harmed the functioning of the immune system, damaged the liver and kidneys and could even trigger a stroke.
Israel Police representative Dep.-Cmdr. Avi Wolf said that "there are still dangerous substances that are sold and that we have not caught, and perhaps we will not be able to catch them."
MK Arye Bibi (Kadima), who previously chaired the Anti-Drugs Authority, said that drug dealers "are one step ahead of the police and find gaps in the law so they can continue to sell dangerous drugs with different names."
Fellow Kadima MK Rachel Adato, a physician, added that "these substances are legally sold in pharmacies with a doctor's prescription, and in kiosks to everyone who wants it, without supervision. The Health Ministry must finally decide if amphetamines and cathinone and their derivatives in all forms will be illegal for sale without a prescription."
Ministry representatives at the meeting said they aimed to present such a bill soon.
Committee chairman Haim Katz (Likud) said he and his colleagues would support any action to "make order" out of the chaos and prohibit dangerous substances before they go on the streets.