Friday, December 23, 2016

How nicotine can help us envision a legal drug market

What nicotine addiction and regulation could tell us about a prohibition free world.

Nicotine is considered to be very addictive.
Although it does not share the same reinforcement effects as heroin or cocaine, it still ranks higher in dependency.

This means that while heroin or cocaine is more pleasurable, nicotine, when habituated, plays a more significant role in one’s daily activities.

This is probably due to the fact that smoking a cigarette can be done almost anywhere at any time, so one associates its use with everyday activities, (eating, showering, errands, etc.). Heroin or cocaine on the other hand, because of its method of ingestion (needles, sniffing) it becomes ostracized from normal activity. Therefore, one associates its use with non-ordinary situations.

Hence, when one is trying to quit an activity, it becomes harder if that activity is associated with ordinary behavior.

Knowing how much nicotine can seep into the normalcy of everyday life, it’s amazing to consider why more people aren’t addicted given its availability.

The likely factor here is in how nicotine and tobacco products in general are regulated. In the late sixties and early seventies, congress passed legislation which limited the advertising of tobacco products. Essentially, the legislative measures banned advertising on television and radio, limiting it to adult oriented magazines and other print media or niche adult material only.

This ban had nothing to do with one’s behavior, and yet it helped reduce smoking.
Now, how come that’s the case? How could such an addictive substance have its prevalence of (ab)use drop significantly? The case is that education, not prohibition, helped individual make wiser decisions about their health and wellbeing.

I believe there’s no reason why this couldn’t be the case with other addictive substances. What drives many to use harder drugs is the realization of the falsehoods of what the “authorities” told them about substance use.

Therefore, we can envisage a market for drugs with high addiction potential, which relies on users seeking out the businesses rather than vendors marketing to the general public. Companies selling opiates or euphoric stimulants, for instance, would have their clientele seeking out their products, as opposed to the business itself marketing trying to acquire new customers.

Thus, we could sell potentially addictive substances in a legal drug market. There would just be restrictions on how these companies could market their addictive products. We may even see a drop in addiction compared to the rates under prohibition. It’s surprising how a cigarette could help us picture a market where we could sell addictive substances ethically.