Hazia

From: ian (i.) gorlick (igorlick@nortel.ca)
Date: Thu 01 Aug 1996 - 23:34:00 EEST


Jeorg doesn't believe that hazia is illegal in the Lunar Empire. Such a
prohibition is out of place for an ancient civilization. I agree with him, but I
have not thrown out the hazia ban as an idea. The prohibition is inappropriate
and stupid. That doesn't mean that a government might not do it. It just means
you have to figure out why they might do it. Anyway, here are my thoughts about
hazia. (For those with good memories, this is almost the same as my thoughts
from 2 years back.)

Hazia Cultivation in Sun County

Hazia is not native to Sun County and the Zola Fel, and it can not survive there
without human cultivation. However, with cultivation and irrigation, it does
very well and achieves yields that it never could in its native forests. During
their long centuries of isolation the farmers of Sun County have slowly bred a
much superior variant of the hazia plant. Given good water and lots of sunlight
and fertilizer, in the absence of its traditional forest pests, the plant has
become much more productive and its narcotic powers are far greater than the
wild variety with less severe side effects.

Hazia has been cultivated in Sun County for centuries. The current total
prohibitions are fairly recent. Originally instated by Varthanis at Lunar
request, they have not been repealed by Solanthos because he personally detests
any form of self-indulgence. Solanthos has actually toughened the enforcement of
these laws. This suits his own temperament and also allows him to tell the
Lunars that he is cooperating with their Armistice commission.

The traditional laws against the cultivation of hazia were only intended to
prevent farmers from growing too much hazia as a cash crop as this practice
could jeopardize the self-sufficiency of Sun County communities. Everyone is
expected to plant their main fields with food-crops, mostly grains. Smaller
garden plots could and did contain hazia, tobacco, cannabis, and poppy. Cannabis
was grown for fibre and poppy for seeds in addition to their narcotic value.
Tobacco and hazia were grown exclusively as recreational pharmaceuticals. As
long as people did not grow excessive quantities of these drugs, no laws were
broken. Even today, despite Solanthos' interpretation of the law, most
households in the county have a few of these plants in their kitchen garden and
the local authorities take no action against them.

The nature of Hazia

The drug hazia has been described as the stamens of certain flowers native to
the Stinking Forest. Some adventures have suggested that bales of hazia are
being exported from small villages near the Zola Fel. The entire crop of a good
saffron field will fit in a small bowl. (Saffron is the stamens of a particular
crocus.) The bales of export hazia can not be just the stamens.

The stamens of hazia are the most potent and most valuable drug that the plants
produce. The flowers are the second most, two grades of flowers exist: those
with stamens still in and those with stamens already removed. The leaves and
stems of the hazia are the lowest grade of drug it produces. A large scale hazia
farming operation can produce bales of leaves, bags of flowers, and pouches of
stamens.

The stamens are the traditional form of the drug in most of Genertela. These
were the only portions sufficiently valuable to be traded far from the Stinking
Forest. A few stamens contain as much drug as a few pipefulls of leaves.
Furthermore the stamens burn completely in only one long drag on a pipe, giving
a much more intense rush.

The 64,000 Wheel question: Why did the Lunars make Hazia Illegal?

Here is my thesis:

Hazia has been a rare and expensive drug in the Lunar Empire for centuries. As
long as the only source was the Stinking Forest no large quantities were
available and no problem was perceived. The drug was used for ritual purposes
almost exclusively because it was much too rare and expensive to be much used
for recreational purposes. Also the quite harsh side effects of the wild hazia
discouraged casual abuse of the drug. After the Lunar conquest of Prax much
larger quantities were available from Sun County and the rest of the Zola Fel.
The drug was also stronger and the side effects milder. This was sought out as a
prestige drug back in the Empire by the Imperials in the region. They shipped
much of it back and many developed serious dependencies on the drug.

The first regulations passed against it were internal policies by some members
of the bureaucracy who found their subordinates being less productive because of
hazia consumption. These regulations were ineffective, and only lead to the
affected users seeking out surreptitious sources of the drug. This lead them
into contact with those ultimate suppliers of all things forbidden, the cult of
Krarsht.

Some unknown Krarshti had a brilliant inspiration for an entire new criminal
industry. The cult leant secret aid and influence to the senior bureaucrats who
wanted to ban the drug from the bureaucracy. The cult encouraged them to seek an
Imperial edict banning the drug entirely. Between the honest men who thought the
ban was a good thing and the corrupt ones working knowingly for Krarsht, the
Emperor was convinced and the edict was granted.

Now all the legal sources of the drug dried up and the addicts throughout the
Empire had to get their supplies elsewhere. Most of these were controlled by
Krarsht. The Krarshti have always been involved in smuggling, now they added
hazia to the substances they moved through the Empire.

The price of hazia in the Empire shot up, all that money now went to Krarsht.
Honest people who might not be bought by money might fall to addiction.
Important people with addictions were encouraged to defray the cost of their
habit by selling to their friends and colleagues, and Krarsht's influence
expanded.

The effect of the ban was to provide the cult of Krarsht with an effective
monopoly on supply and huge price supports for this highly addictive substance.
Thus a small social problem has been elevated to a social and criminal disaster.

The big question now is: How long will it take the Empire to realize what a
serious mistake it has made? The second question is: How long after that will it
take for them to admit that they made a serious mistake?

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