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War on "piracy" makes Sudafed-from-meth a reality

Sunday 26 February 2012, 14:17

There's a very amusing article making the rounds that purports to be a scientific paper on the subject of how to make Sudafed from crystal meth. The idea is that because of the War on Drugs and the fact that the popular cold medication pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can be used to synthesize methamphetamine, it has become really difficult and annoying to buy pseudoephedrine when you just want to use it to treat your cold. So, the authors claim, instead of buying Sudafed it is easier to buy crystal meth and do a bit of lab work to convert it to Sudafed. Using safe, readily available household chemicals, like chromium carbonyl.

I'm sure the article was meant as a comment on drug prohibition, but it occurs to me that it's pretty much exactly the same thing we see in real life with video "piracy." Efforts to prevent "piracy" have created so much inconvenience for non-pirate buyers, and have had so little effect on the availability of "pirated" video, that people end up choosing the "pirated" versions just because the non-"pirated" ones have become basically impossible to obtain and are getting steadily worse, while the "pirated" choices are getting easier and better. It's much the same point The Oatmeal made recently.

Stimulants

Friday 10 June 2011, 09:53

I wonder: what percentage of current agricultural capacity is devoted to stimulant drug crops? I mean tea, coffee, tobacco, khat, areca, coca, cacao, yerba mate, and so on. It seems like it must be a pretty large percentage. I wonder how much food could be grown using those resources, and how that amount of food compares to the size of the food shortage.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it would be possible or desirable to make such a substitution. It seems like there must be a reason that nearly every human culture has a tradition of using stimulant drugs. Also, I'm well aware that different plants grow under different conditions, so the land and resources currently used for non-food crops can't necessarily be used for food crops. But it would still be interesting to know the answers to the questions.