Star Trek Picard’s Worst Character Breaks Gene Roddenberry’s Biggest Rule

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek drugs

While actor Michelle Hurd is immensely talented, her Star Trek: Picard character Raffi is basically the worst. Her characterization is all over the place, and the first season portrayed her as a person with a drug addiction, something many fans thought should be impossible in the far-flung future. It turns out that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry would have agreed, as he vetoed a script idea that would have had one of Captain Kirk’s crew addicted to drugs.


star trek drugs

In case you’ve blanked the first season of Star Trek: Picard out (I wouldn’t blame you), let’s review the way drugs come into play. When we are introduced to Raffi, she is a disgraced former Starfleet officer with a huge chip on her shoulder regarding Picard. We also discover she is an alcoholic with an addiction to the fictional drug snakeleaf, and her reliance on these substances is part of why she got kicked out of Starfleet in the first place.


When this Star Trek show first premiered, fans were understandably curious how somebody in the show (which begins in the late 24th century) could be addicted to drugs and alcohol. For example, the franchise has established most people get drunk on synthehol, a synthetic alcohol whose intoxicating effects can be dismissed at will. Even if Raffi went out of her way to replicate or purchase some real Scotch (Scotty would approve), this is a world where, in a pinch, she could have an entirely new liver replicated for her body as an outpatient procedure.

Drugs Wrecked Raffi’s Life

star trek drugs

As for the other problem with this Star Trek character, Raffi is apparently addicted to a drug called snakeleaf (implicitly only a drug if you sublimate it as she does) that she grows at home. This is the same drug that made her paranoid enough to get kicked out of Starfleet, but there seems to be no attempt to keep her from growing the very thing she is addicted to after she leaves the service. Probably because the Federation’s collective knowledge of biology and neurology would have led to the development of several effective ways of treating such a substance addiction.

The City On The Edge Of Forever

At this point, many of you are yelling at me that this is clearly a psychological addiction (like Barclay’s reliance on horny holodeck adventures) rather than a biological one. However, that seemed like a moot point to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, someone who thought addiction to drugs in the future was downright impossible. We know this thanks to the notes he gave writer Harlan Ellison for The Original Series episode “City On the Edge of Forever.”

In Ellison’s original version of this iconic Star Trek script, one of Kirk’s crewmen suffered from addiction to drugs and went so far as to murder a fellow officer and escape into the distant past to evade justice for his crime. Roddenberry had many problems with this infamous early script, and one of the biggest was that he didn’t think anyone would suffer from drug addiction in the 23rd century. Nonetheless, the Picard writers had Raffi dealing with drug and alcohol addiction in the late 24th century and early 25th. 

Raffi’s Addiction Just Doesn’t Make Sense

There are so many problems with Star Trek: Picard beyond this plot point, but I can’t get over the writers ignoring one of Gene Roddenberry’s most logical rules (it’s not a crazy one like his “no conflict between characters” nonsense) to give us a hero addicted to drugs. It’s also totally inconsistent with the franchise which had previously treated Tilly’s accidental exposure to drugs in Discovery as a joke. Sorry, Raffi: I’m going to have to take you very firmly out of the candidate list for dream blunt rotation.

Incidentally, does anyone know where I can get whatever the heck the Picard writers were smoking?