by Fred E. Foldvary
Drug warriors scored a virtual victory after the 2006 U.S. elections when they hurriedly extended the War on Drugs to a psychoactive substance previously exempt: nepetalactone, the main psychoactive ingredient in catnip. It is well known that the sniffing of catnip makes some cats "turn on." Their eyes open wide, they roll over on the floor, they hug and bite the catnip toy and kick it with the feet, and they friskily run to and fro, similar to human beings who go crazy ingesting psychoactive drugs.
While catnip does not have the same effect on human beings, the advocates of banning catnip have pointed out that children who give their cats catnip and then see the cat being "happy" might get dangerous ideas about getting high. They think, if the cat can feel good, why not them too? Indeed, the first step to marijuana addiction may well be catnip! According to the drug warriors, catnip has been a major gateway to the human abuse of drugs, and yet there has been no prohibition.
The U.S. federal ban on drugs began in 1914 with the Harrison Narcotic Act to control opium. Alcohol was prohibited by the 18th Amendment in 1919, in an era where the U.S. Constitution was still respected, but the Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933.
In 1937, convinced that marijuana causes insanity, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which effectively prohibited that substance. The full-scale war on psychoactive substances started with Nixon's declaration in 1969 that such drugs were "America's public enemy number one." Congress formally declared the War on Drugs with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The agency that prosecutes this war is the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In 1988, the Reagan Administration created the Office of National Drug Control Policy to bring together all federal departments and agencies into a united war campaign. In accord with America's traditional admiration of the Roman dictator Caesar, the director of ONDCP is called the Drug Czar, and the recognition of the War on Drugs as America's number one bipartisan obsession was made clear by raising the Drug Czar to cabinet-level status by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Now the last great loophole in the abuse of drugs by both children and adults has been closed. The enforcement of the prohibition of catnip will begin nationally with the first full eclipse of the sun in 2007, to symbolize the eclipse of the libertine and lascivious feline attitudes that have led to catnip abuse. Americans will receive orders to destroy all catnip in their homes before the eclipse.
The War on Catnip has started already as a pilot program in the so-called "red zone" of Washington, DC. The assistant to the Drug Czar for federal territory is Ima Tyrant, who was transferred to the ONDCP from the Federal Communications Commission's "Office of Philosophy and Economics," which has been enforcing a ban on philosophic and economic indecency.
Some Washington red-zone residents stubbornly refused to destroy their illicit catnip. For example, Dr. Felix thought that nobody would know that he still had some catnip in his cabinet. But Ima Tyrant sent dog patrols down the red-zone streets of Washington, hounds who were trained to detect minute particles of catnip. The dogs howled at Dr. Felix's front door, and the catnip SWAT teem stormed into the house and went through all the closets, cabinets and shelves, dumping everything on the floor until they finally found the catnip. Dr. Felix is now in federal prison on a life sentence for the possession of catnip.
But, like marijuana, there is also the problem of controlling the catnip plants, scientifically called Nepeta cataria. Catnip is a member of the mint family, and the plant grows all over North America. The 2006 Prohibition of the Possession of Nepetalactone and Catnip Plants Act makes it a federal crime to grow catnip on one's land, even if the landowner does not know that the plants are present. Large-scale spraying with toxic chemicals will occur during 2006 everywhere that satellites detect catnip plants. Unfortunately, sometimes spearmint and basil plants look like catnip, and these may also be sprayed. Americans will be warned to avoid ingesting any herbs of the mint family after the spraying.
"Catnip is a much greater drug problem than most people realize," said Ima Tyrant in a recently televised interview. "Some teenagers have experimented with smoking catnip. People also make tea from catnip, and have used it in folk medicines. We can no longer tolerate this big loophole in drug abuse. The prohibition of catnip will the "cat-stone" to America's War on Drugs.
"But why is alcohol not included in banned substances, as it causes much more trouble than catnip?" asked the interviewer. Ima Tyrant replied, "Alcohol is not really a drug. That's a myth perpetuated by those who foolishly want to legalize drugs. Alcohol is a normal drink, and like fatty foods, sure it can be abused, but to call alcohol a drug is sheer propaganda."
You hip cats have only a limited time to enjoy your cataria until the eclipse of your feline liberty. The dogs of war will then come barking, so beware.
This article first appeared in the Progress Report, www.progress.org. Reprinted with permission.
Dr. Fred Foldvary teaches economics at Santa Clara University and is the author of several books: The Soul of Liberty, Public Goods and Private Communities, and the Dictionary of Free-Market Economics.