Saturday, March 24, 2007

How toxic is your favorite drug?

Here's an interesting little chart from American Scientist via Sullivan:

Now look at which drugs are available freely (nutmeg), pretty much available freely (alcohol), perscription only (codeine), and banned outright (marijuana). Conclusion: whatever scheme is used to classify recreational drugs, it seems to have little to do with toxicity. I've said it many times but it bears repeating: The "War on Drugs" is stupid, immoral, and a colossal waste of resources.


Anonymous Mad Latinist said...

Of course, given that the measurement in use here is effective dose to lethal dose, this is presuming that you are using the drugs to get an "effect." One needs to keep that in mind when considering nuttmeg: the amount you use in food is not going to kill you.

(How much is? Hmm, well synthesizing the information on this page and this one, it looks like the average adult would need to eat between one and two whole seeds to get an effect. Um, IANAD, and it goes without saying that if you actually plan on getting high on nutmeg you should not base your judgements on my calculations.)

Now, as for rue....

8:24 PM, March 24, 2007  
Blogger grishnash said...

I would be sure to note in particular this quote from the article you linked to at the top, "A simpleminded look at the ratio of effective to lethal doses ignores many complications, some of which are well recognized, some rather subtle."

There are many valid reasons to treat substances differently based on factors other than potential for a lethal overdose, which is what that chart shows.

I see that nicotine is not on that chart, but from other sources, it seems that the ratio of an effective dose (somewhere around 1 mg) and a lethal dose (somewhere around 40 mg) would put it somewhere around the middle of that chart. I don't know if I would categorize it as "stupid, immoral, and a waste of resources" to ban cigarettes but not alcohol from restaurants just on the basis of this, though.

10:29 PM, March 24, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Of course, the ratio of effective to lethal dose is only one factor one should take into account when determining what kind of state control should be imposed on a substance.

In the case of cigarettes, the banning from restaurants has everything to do with the fact that they affect other people. If you want to get your nicotene via patch, that's perfectly fine. I don't care how non-toxic your drug of choice is; I think the state has a legitimate reason to restrict it if it (or its delivery mechanism) floats around in smoke and can be inhaled by other people in public places.

11:20 PM, March 24, 2007  
Blogger grishnash said...

Yes, I guess that's exactly what I was trying to say.

11:28 PM, March 24, 2007  
Anonymous Mad Latinist said...

Hmm, and you know, from another way of looking at things, if something has a high effectiveness to lethality ratio, that only makes it seem more potent.

11:33 PM, March 24, 2007  

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