Nepeta, or Catnip, is commonly used among the K'Nes as a mild narcotic.
The Earth Federation, during their eight-year occupation, banned nepeta in K'Nes space (resulting in it becomeing a rare and exotic treat for K'Nes visiting human space). After the K'Nes Llan formed and declared independence from the Federation, nepeta was re-legalized and a booming nepeta industry popped up pracically overnight.
- On K'Nes, nepeta has calming, relaxing effect and produces a mild, temporary euphoria. For example, in human terms, the overall effect would be closer to Vallium than marijuana.
- On humans, nepeta has only a very mild sedative effect.
- Jurvain find the smell of nepeta to be overpowering and repulsive. The effect of nepeta on Jurvain is unknown, because none have ever tried to consume it.
Nepeta can quickly become habit-forming, especially when used (as it often is) to manage stress. Long-term use can lead to addiction and dependence. Withdrawl symptoms include heightened anxiety, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, and increased aggression.
Overdosing on nepeta is extremely rare. K'Nes are likely to fall asleep long before they can consume that much.
Nepeta is usually consumed by K'Nes as a snuff. The effects of nepeta are strongest when inhaled through the nose, because the active chemical, nepetalactone, binds near-instantly to the olfactory receptors. Nepeta use is common among K'Nes business executives in high-stress professions, who usually keep dried & powdered nepeta in small, ornate snuff boxes.
Nepta can also be smoked. Although the effects are not as strong when consumed this way, they last longer. Poorer K'Nes prefer to smoke nepeta, as they can make the same quantity last longer. Consequently, snorting nepeta instead of smoking it has become something of a status symbol.
Finally, nepeta can be eaten, although this consumption method has the weakest effects. Nepeta is sometimes used as an (expensive) spice in high-end cuisine. Expensive, high-quality K'Nes cocktails sometimes include powdered nepeta mixed into the drink.
Since nepeta's planet of origin (Earth) was effectively destroyed, and it does not grow naturally on any of the K'Nes planets, K'Nes must cultivate nepeta in climate- and atmosphere-controlled greenhouses. This limits production and drives the price up.
K'Nes have cultivated hundreds of species and hybrids in every scent and potency imaginable.
- The Nepeta Fassenii species is the smallest and grows the quickest, but is therefore also the least potent. These hybrids produce the cheapest and most common snuff.
- Nepeta Cataria is much larger, but takes twice as long to grow. Consequently, it is twice as potent... and twice as expensive. Ironically, this is the species most humans sell in pet stores at (to K'Nes) dirt-cheap prices. Any K'Nes worth their credit buys "catnip" whenever they can, knowing it will turn a quick profit back home.
- Nepeta Imperialem (aka Imperial Catnip) is the largest and the lushest, with dark green leaves containing the highest concentration of nepetalactone. It also takes the longest to grow. Consequently, it is the rarest, most expensive, and most potent nepeta avaialble. It is considered highly fashionable and generally only consumed by the upper classes of K'Nes society. Under the K'Nes Tor, Imperial Catnip was a royal monopoly held by Emperor Horrath VI. Under the K'Nes Llan, the former royal company Horrath Industries is still considered to produce the best Imperial Catnip, although they no longer hold a monopoly on it.