The following is excerpted from an article "On the road to crack nicotine?"
The tobacco companies聮 standard objection is that higher taxes will lead to more cigarette smuggling. The anti-tobacco crowd聮s standard response is to demand adjacent cities and states have ever-higher tobacco taxes as well.
Yet the entire argument regarding increased taxes and cigarette smuggling is irrelevant and astoundingly na茂ve. The true threat is unimaginably worse.
Nicotine as an Insecticide
Nicotine is a naturally occurring substance found in many plants, such as eggplant. Its highest concentration occurs in tobacco leaves. Its function is to protect the plant against insects, i.e., it is a natural insecticide.
Black Leaf 40, an environmentally safe and biodegradable agricultural insecticide used around the world, is 40 percent nicotine sulfate. Farmers have been using nicotine sulfate insecticide since the early 1800s. To make it, all you do is boil tobacco leaves in water with a little sulfuric acid (the same acid as in a car battery).
If you mix the resultant nicotine sulfate extract with a common alkali such as lime, then add a solvent such as ether, pure nicotine alkaloid - or free-base "crack聰 nicotine - will float to the top dissolved in the solvent, which is then evaporated off. A trivially simple procedure that anyone with a high school chemistry course can perform, it is the same process as making free-base cocaine from cocaine hydrochloride powder.
And just as "crack" or free-base cocaine is far more addictive and lethal than cocaine hydrochloride powder, so crack or free-base nicotine would be frighteningly more addictive, and lethal, than tobacco.
The faster a drug rises in the brain, and the higher its concentration, the more potentially addictive it is. Smoking tobacco leaves is a quick and concentrated, and thus addictive, way to administer nicotine - unlike the nicotine skin patch, which delivers the drug slowly. Faster still, much faster and far more concentrated, than smoking plant leaves would be smoking nicotine free base.
Tobacco companies have been aware of this for years. In 1973, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco determined that certain of their competitors (such as Phillip Morris聮 Marlboro) were dosing their tobacco with ammonia. This makes the smoke more alkaline, enabling more of the nicotine to be in the smoke, giving it a higher "kick.聰
For the same reason, chewers of coca leaf in the Andes always do so with a little lime. New Guinea tribespeople carry a gourd full of powdered lime with a thin bone of the cassowary bird as a stopper; when they chew betel nut, they lick the lime off the bone.
It is thus a small leap to apply these primitive practices and crack cocaine chemistry to tobacco, and make full strength, pure free-base nicotine.
Nicotine as an Addictive Poison
Nicotine is the most addictive substance known to science. It is far more addictive than any illegal drug, including heroin (that is, a lower percentage of nicotine addicts are able to permanently quit than heroin addicts). Smoking crack nicotine would be the fastest way to administer the drug, making crack nicotine many times more addictive than tobacco.
Nicotine acts by stimulating the nicotinic cholinergic receptors located throughout the brain and body. If these receptors are mildly stimulated, such as via smoking tobacco leaves, there will be a sensation of heightened alertness, an improved capacity to focus and block out extraneous stimuli.
Just as the high of crack cocaine is experienced more intensely by the addict than snorting coke powder, so will the high of crack nicotine be more intensely pleasurable to the tobacco addict than smoking tobacco leaves. But if the nicotinic cholinergic receptors are stimulated too strongly, one’s brain and body will go into fatal convulsions.
In its ability to quickly and massively overstimulate one’s nicotinic cholinergic receptors, crack nicotine is incredibly poisonous. One drop of 40 milligrams of pure uncut crack nicotine smoked in a glass pipe has a 50 percent chance of killing an adult. Two drops will kill you for sure. It is more toxic than cyanide, one-tenth (gram per gram) as toxic as typical military nerve gas. A few drops on your skin, one or two drops on your mucous membranes, and you are dead.
Poisonous Enough to Kill Castro
Thus purveyors of crack nicotine would have to cut or dilute it with water (as it聮s water-soluble) by about 20-1. The nicotine sulfate in Black Leaf 40, on the other hand, cannot be absorbed by the skin or membranes well; it is poison only if you swallow it 聳 like an insect is supposed to.
The famous "poison pen聰 with which the CIA, per John Kennedy聮s request in 1963, tried to kill Fidel Castro was a hypodermic needle disguised as a ballpoint pen and filled with Black Leaf 40.
Do the Math
There is an average of 2 milligrams of nicotine in one high-nicotine cigarette. Total state and city taxes in New York City are now about $3 for a pack of 20: a tax of 7.5 cents per milligram, or $75,000 per kilo of nicotine in cigarettes.
Three drums of nicotine sulfate extract would yield one drum, or 200 kilos, of crack nicotine. This could be manufactured at an average cost (ingredients, equipment, Third World labor) of less than $500. The tax avoidance value (@ $75,000 a kilo) is 30,000 times that: 15 million dollars for one drum of crack nicotine. That is a 3 million percent profit.
Further, one eyedropper-full of uncut crack nicotine would have a nicotine content of four cartons of cigarettes, one kilo poured in a 20-ounce soda-pop bottle would equal 5,000 cartons or 50,000 packs: a value-per-volume increase of 1,000 times for cigarette smugglers. A typical fix of cut crack nicotine (diluted 20-to-1, or 2 mg) would be 1 percent of a crack cocaine fix (200 mg) by weight: making it 100 times easier, in terms of size, to smuggle than cocaine.
Enter the Mob
Given these numbers, the politicians聮 greedy tobacco tax crusade makes the creation of a crack nicotine market inevitable and irresistible to organized crime. And soon.
More Americans are addicted to nicotine than any other drug. The market for crack nicotine is in the tens of millions of addicts, vastly exceeding any illegal drug by orders of magnitude. Crack nicotine would be far more lucrative for drug dealers and organized crime than heroin, cocaine or anything else.
The mortality rate from overdosing, compared to that of any other drug, would be of equal dimensions. Because crack nicotine would have a market 100 times larger, and a profit margin 100 times greater than crack cocaine, such plagues as drive-by shootings, gang turf wars, violent crimes by addicts needing fix money, and the corruption of judges and entire police forces could explode exponentially.
Fantasies and Consequences
The fantasy of anti-tobacco activists, that ever-higher jury awards will stop cigarette sales or ever-higher tobacco taxes will result in fewer people smoking, is going to result in a hideous nightmare instead.
The anti-tobacco activists must realize there are far better alternatives to jury-award and tax crusades. They could become advocates of adult responsibility, and demand that taxpayers not subsidize the medical consequences of tobacco addiction. They could demand safe alternatives to cigarettes, such as Nico Water (mineral water laced with 2 mg of nicotine), recently banned by the FDA and ignorantly opposed by anti-tobacco groups such as Tobacco Free Kids.
Unless they abandon their fantasies and adopt realistic alternatives, such groups are about to learn a horrible lesson taught by the Law of Unintended Consequences 聳 and all of us will suffer for it.|||Wow, great read Bob!
So I guess the unlicensed e-cigarette could take the place of the crack-nicotine mobs in this story?!
I have wondered for a while what form the nicotine in the e-cig is, whether it is particulate or freebase. Do you have any ideas?
Thanks for posting.
SJ|||I don’t know. And wish I did. I’m sure the FDA here will want to know what form of nicotine is used if or when that agency sticks its nose in.
Yep, e-smoking wasn’t foreseen when this article was written. We replace the mobs! Boss.|||What a hoot! |||Can you provide the source for this article? It appears to that the author lifted entire passages from another article published in 2002.|||No. Note the date it was posted. It was reposted without changing a thing, though.|||Hey Posh Girl: I was trying to backtrack to find the source for you and found your own Daily Kos link to the Washington Times 2002 article by Jack Wheeler. I’m still trying to find the original source for this complete article.|||Here ’tis:
Crack Nicotine: Anti-tobacco Fantasies and the Law of Unintended Consequences|||Oh okay, it is the same writer with two different articles. They are almost identical. (In college this would still be considered plagiarism.)|||I’m trying not to be embarrassed that you found my diary, but I totally am. lol I need to quit using the same username everywhere.Oh, that sounds interesting. What’s embarrassing on your diary Posh? Could there be some juicy forum gossip food here?