EU Commission Proposes Ban on Catnip
According to researchers, catnip is similar to the perennial herb, Nepeta cateria, a member of the mint family. This herb has been known to cause hallucinations among felines who are exposed to large quantities of the substance. Nepetalactone, the primary chemical in catnip, can trigger oral, visual, and olfactory hyper-sensitivity in certain cats. It is not known to have any similar effect upon human beings, although it is unadvisable to smoke catnip in an attempt to "get high." (Studies have shown that there is a negative statistical correlation, although not a causal relationship, between human intelligence and attempts to smoke catnip.)
Advocates of the Commission's proposal claim that catnip is a "gateway drug" to other "harder substances" such as Liver Pate. However, the drug is not known to be addictive and there have been no documented long-term side effects.
The European Association for the Promotion of Cat's Rights has been a prominent actor in the discussion surrounding the Commission's controversial proposal. Members of the Dutch delegation have been especially outspoken, promoting a policy of tolerance (gedoogbeleid) regarding Community Capnip policy. The Dutch consider catnip to be a "soft drug" and advocate making catnip publically available on a large-scale. (On a side note, the Netherlands Board of Tourism is currently marketing an advertising campaign aimed at attracting catnip tourists from other EU countries with more restrictive catnip policies.)
The Swedish feline contingency, on the other hand, has suggested stricter regulations, proposing a state monopoly on the sale of catnip, with restrictive opening hours and high taxes. The Danish representative, Musse Rasmussen, supports the Swedish proposal "in principle," but stated that the regular use of catnip will continue to be permitted among cats residing in the Kristiania enclave of Copenhagen.
The British cats are expected to veto the proposal on the grounds that it restricts the "free flow of catnip" across the Union. The French felines are, not unexpectedly, concerned with patenting the name "menthe aux chats," claiming that the herb originates in a province in the south of France.
Several catnip experts from the United States have been invited to speak before the Commission. Several American studies have looked at individual U.S. states that have introduced "progressive regulations" regarding the use of catnip for medicinal purposes. Washington State, for example, has permitted felines to grow catnip at home for personal use, placing restrictions only upon the "possession of catnip with intent to sell."
Editor's Note: This post is dedicated to Stefan Geens. Alternative headline: "Cat blogger, my ass."