Appendix to the tobacco post

This is an appendix to a post that can be found here.

It’s important to note that the following is not meant to be a proper scientific analysis or applicable to every part of the world. It’s merely a proof of concept that’s meant to show general trends and offer food for thought. And in that I believe it succeeds.



Prescription opioids
availability: *****
toxicity: ****
ease of secrecy: *****

Prescription opioids are ubiquitous.1

When addicts switch to intravenous use because of the increased tolerance and need for economy, the problems accompanying intravenous use present themselves. It’s the unsupervised and unprofessional use of needles that creates most problems of opioids, in addition to overdose, such as infections and diseases.2

Like heroin, opioid use is hard to tell on lower doses and many people can have careers while being addicted.3 But, again, intravenous use leaves marks on the body.

Alcohol (ethanol)
availability: *****
toxicity: *****
ease of secrecy: ***

Anyone with sugar and yeast can produce large quantities of alcohol fast and reliably. The act of distilling, however, requires some knowledge.

Smuggling creates the incentive to distil as pure alcohol as possible. This process, if done improperly, can create extremely lethal methanol.4 Also, alcohol is statistically speaking the worst possible generator of social problems (and health problems) with which the addict and their family is left alone.5

Generally alcohol is used in parties, but alcoholics can learn to hide the effects to a degree in other times too.

Psilocybin mushrooms
availability: *****
toxicity: **
ease of secrecy: *****

A single dose of psilocybin mushrooms is relatively heavy compared to other common drugs, around 2 grams.6 This is compensated by the fact that psilocybin mushrooms are not often used more frequently than in monthly or even yearly intervals. Moreover, these mushrooms are quite easily cultivated7 by the user or collected from a forest. They grow naturally in every continent except Antartica.8

Toxicity doesn’t much change under prohibition because you can’t adulterate the mushrooms (the product looks like mushrooms) and there’s no risk of an overdose.9 But psychedelics can catalyse very challenging states of mind which can lead some to have panic attacks — to which it can be hard to seek help if it would require the admittance of a criminal act.

Psilocybin mushrooms are not addictive so they’re used so rarely that the use is easy to keep a secret.10

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
availability: *****
toxicity: **
ease of secrecy: *****

LSD is measured in micrograms. If a common dose was considered to be 150 micrograms 10 gram of the substance would provide around 67,000 doses.11 LSD can be blotted on paper and it is, for all intents and purposes, invisible. That is why LSD can be reliably mailed to anywhere.

Toxicity doesn’t much change under prohibition. LSD is almost exclusively sold as unadulterated12, but sometimes people are sold different substances as LSD. Moreover, psychedelics can catalyse very challenging states of mind which can lead some to have panic attacks — to which it can be hard to seek help if it would require the admittance of a criminal act.

LSD is not addictive and it’s used so rarely that the use is easy to keep a secret.13

Amphetamine
availability: ****
toxicity: ****
ease of secrecy: ****

Amphetamine is a common prescription drug all over the world and the illegal laboratories producing it are widespread. If a common dose is considered to be 47.5mg, a 10 gram piece of smuggled product would provide about 211 doses for the black market.14 Each dose offers 6-8 hours of intoxication.

Within Europe, amphetamine’s purity varies between 5-50% increasing the risk of overdose and dangerous adulterants. In the streets amphetamine is often confused with the similarly looking, except more dangerous, stimulant called methamphetamine.15

The intoxication is very hard to point out as the user is merely stimulated and attentive. The doses measured in milligrams are inconspicuously ingested (usually orally or nasally) and easily carried with oneself.

Heroin (diamorphine)
availability: **
toxicity: *****
ease of secrecy: ***

Although diamorphine is a ubiquitous prescription drug, the general availability is quite low because of the intense worldwide demand. This is because heroin is the most powerful of opioids. Nevertheless, diamorphine is easy to smuggle as 10 grams would provide 667 doses for the black market with each dose giving 3-7 hours of intoxication. In this case I consider a common dose to be about 15mg.16

diamorphine’s mean purity varies between 20-60% which greatly increases the risk of overdose in intravenous use.17 And that’s how diamorphine is generally used most notably because it’s the most economic way of using a scarce substance. It’s this unsupervised and unprofessional use of needles that creates most problems of diamorphine, in addition to overdose, such as diseases and infections.18

Diamorphine’s effects are relatively inconspicuous at lower doses. Many addicts tell they can have perfectly safe professional lives, in the health care business for instance, while being addicts.19 The intravenous use leaves marks on the body, though.

Cannabis
availability: ****
toxicity: *
ease of secrecy: ***

If we take a common dose of cannabis to be around 0.2 grams20, and the average yield of a cannabis plant with a 400 watt light around 100 grams21, a single plant produces 500 doses. Because most cannabis users seem to use cannabis recreationally 1-10 times a year22, a single plant provides the user enough produce for 100 years. And enough to give to friends, too.

Adulterating leaves is unrealistic and there’s no risk of an overdose.23

Smells while growing or smoking can be problematic. Nevertheless, cannabis is only mildly addictive so the use is commonly very infrequent which calls less hiding.24

Tobacco
availability: **
toxicity: *
ease of secrecy: *

If a common dose of tobacco is considered to be 0.7 grams25, a 10 gram piece of smuggled product would provide 14 doses for the black market. Each dose offers about an hour of intoxication.

Adulterating leaves is unrealistic and there’s no relevant risk of a lethal overdose when smoking.26

The smoke sets off fire alarms, the pungent smell sticks to everything and the act of smoking is itself extremely conspicuous. And traditionally you have to re-dose hourly.


References

[1] Hughes, Arthur, Matthew R. Williams, Racher N. Lipari, Jonaki Bose, Elizabeth A. P. Copello, and Larry A. Kroutil. “Prescription Drug Use and Misuse in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” n.d. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR2-2015/NSDUH-FFR2-2015.htm.

[2] World Health Organisation. “MANAGEMENT OF COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS OF DRUG USERS,” n.d. http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/idu/drug_dependence/hiv_primary_care_guidelines_searo.pdf.

[3] Grinspoon, Peter. “Up to 15% of Doctors Are Drug Addicts. I Was One of Them.” Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2016. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-grinspoon-addicted-doctors-20160605-snap-story.html.

[4] Collins, Ben. “Methanol Poisoning: The Dangers of Distilling Spirits at Home.” Item, June 13, 2013. http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2013/06/13/3781104.htm.

[5] Amsterdam, Jan van, David Nutt, Lawrence Phillips, and Wim van den Brink. “European Rating of Drug Harms.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, n.d. doi:10.1177/0269881115581980.

[6] “Psilocybin, Psilocin, and Magic Mushroom Dosage.” The Vaults of Erowid. Accessed May 29, 2017. https://erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_dose.shtml.

[7] “Bulk Psilocybe Cubensis Growing for Noobs – Very Easy TEK.” Shroomery — Magic Mushroom Demystified. Accessed May 29, 2017. https://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Number/10981397.

[8] “Psilocybin Mushroom — Occurrence.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 29, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin_mushroom#Occurrence.

[9] “Psilocybin — Toxicity.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 29, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin#Toxicity.

[10] Passie, Torsten, Juergen Seifert, Udo Schneider, and Hinderk M. Emrich. “The Pharmacology of Psilocybin,” n.d., 361.

[11] “LSD Basics.” The Vaults of Erowid. Accessed May 29, 2017. https://erowid.org/chemicals/lsd/lsd_basics.shtmlkkk.

[12] Originally published as “Strychnine and Other Enduring Myths: Expert and User Folklore Surrounding LSD,” by David Presti and Jerome Beck in Psychoactive Sacramentals, ed. Thomas Roberts (San Francisco: Council for Spiritual Practices, 2001), 125-37.

[13] Malenka RC, Nestler EJ, Hyman SE (2009). “Chapter 15: Reinforcement and Addictive Disorders”. In Sydor A, Brown RY. Molecular Neuropharmacology: A Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Medical. p. 375. ISBN 9780071481274. “Several other classes of drugs are categorized as drugs of abuse but rarely produce compulsive use. These include psychedelic agents, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), which are used for their ability to produce perceptual distortions at low and moderate doses.”

[14] “Amphetamine.” PsychonautWiki. Accessed May 29, 2017. https://psychonautwiki.org/wiki/Amphetamine.

[15] “PROBLEM AMPHETAMINE AND METHAMPHETAMINE USE IN EUROPE.” European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2010. http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/578/EMCDDA_SI10_Amphetamines_242746.pdf.

[16] “Heroin Dosage.” The Vaults of Erowid. Accessed May 29, 2017. https://erowid.org/chemicals/heroin/heroin_dose.shtml.

[17] “The Price and Purity of Illicit Drugs: 1981 Through the Second Quarter of 2003.” EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY, n.d. https://www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/pdf/price_purity.pdf.
Darke, S., W. Hall, D. Weatherburn, and B. Lind. “Fluctuations in Heroin Purity and the Incidence of Fatal Heroin Overdose.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 54, no. 2 (April 1, 1999): 155–61.

[18] World Health Organisation. “MANAGEMENT OF COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS OF DRUG USERS,” n.d. http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/idu/drug_dependence/hiv_primary_care_guidelines_searo.pdf

[19] Grinspoon, Peter. “Up to 15% of Doctors Are Drug Addicts. I Was One of Them.” Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2016. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-grinspoon-addicted-doctors-20160605-snap-story.html.

[20] “Cannabis & Marinol Dosage.” The Vaults of Erowid. Accessed May 30, 2017. https://erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_dose.shtml.

[21] “How Much Marijuana Can One Plant Produce? A Pound!” I Love Growing Marijuana, January 21, 2014. http://www.ilovegrowingmarijuana.com/marijuana-cannabis-yield-how-much/.

[22] Hakkarainen, Pekka, and Karoliina Karjalainen. “Pilvee, pilvee. Kannabiksen käyttötavat, käyttäjät ja poliittiset mielipiteet” 82 (February 17, 2017): 23.

[23] “Rescheduling of Cannabis.” Institute for Cannabis Therapeutics, March 27, 2010. https://www.oregon.gov/pharmacy/Imports/Marijuana/StaffReview/ReschedulingCannabis-NOTES_3-10.pdf.
Calabria, Bianca, Louisa Degenhardt, Wayne Hall, and Michael Lynskey. “Does Cannabis Use Increase the Risk of Death? Systematic Review of Epidemiological Evidence on Adverse Effects of Cannabis Use.” Drug and Alcohol Review 29, no. 3 (May 1, 2010): 318–30. doi:10.1111/j.1465-3362.2009.00149.x.

[24] Nutt, David, Leslie A. King, William Saulsbury, and Colin Blakemore. “Development of a Rational Scale to Assess the Harm of Drugs of Potential Misuse.” The Lancet 369, no. 9566 (March 24, 2007): 1047–53. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60464-4.

[25] neo.enviro. “How Much Does a Cigarette Weigh?” View Know Do, January 26, 2012. http://viewknowdo.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-much-does-cigarette-weigh.html.

[26] Mayer, Bernd. “How Much Nicotine Kills a Human? Tracing Back the Generally Accepted Lethal Dose to Dubious Self-Experiments in the Nineteenth Century.” Archives of Toxicology 88, no. 1 (2014): 5–7. doi:10.1007/s00204-013-1127-0.

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One thought on “Appendix to the tobacco post

  1. Pingback: Tobacco is weird and banning it could be a good idea | Riku Soikkeli

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