Thursday, August 28, 2008

Illegal cocaine worth more than gold, platinum, and human blood

A group of scientists with too much time on their hands, over at the brilliant Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories website, have produced a guide to the monetary density of things, or in other words the value per pound of various commodities, from flour through to kobe beef, marijuana, human blood, gold, cocaine and antimatter. Are some drugs literally worth their weight in gold as Transform have claimed? - lets see....

ItemPrice per pound
All purpose flour $0.52
Zinc $0.80
Lead $0.85
Bottled water $1.00
Pennies $1.81
Copper $3.50
Nickels $4.54
Nickel $9.00
Bulk hemp fiber $12
Dimes $20
Quarters $20
Turkey feathers $26
Maine Coon Cat (Pet quality ~20 lbs) $50
Dollar coins $56
Uranium (as U3O8) $65
Kobe Beef Filet Mignon $112
Kopi Luwak $160
Human Blood $181
Silver $197
Printer Ink $322
Peacock feathers $410
One Dollar Bills $454
Two Dollar Bills $907
Lottery Tickets (California $1 scratch-offs) $907
Saffron $1,000
Marijuana $2,000
Five Dollar Bills $2,268
Industrial diamonds $2,300
LZR Swimsuit $2,495
Palladium $4,287
Ambergris $4,500
Ten Dollar Bills $4,536
Twenty Dollar Bills $9,072
Any object brought to ISS At least $10,000
Gold $12,000
Platinum $20,679
Fifty Dollar Bills $22,680
Cocaine $22,680
Hundred Dollar Bills $45,359
Rhodium $77,292
Good-quality, one-carat diamonds $11.4 M
LSD $55 M
Antimatter $26 Quadrillion

So there you have it. Cocaine is worth way more than gold, platinum or sending stuff into space by rocket, whilst LSD, a pound of which will set you back a cool $55 million dollars, is second only in cost to a pound of antimatter that, at $26 Quadrillion, will cost you more than all your pocket money (even if you save up for absolutely ages).

Marijuana/cannabis, it turns out, costs more that uranium, human blood, and saffron, as well being more than ten times as expensive as silver.

It should, of course, be pointed out that the ridiculously inflated prices of illegal drugs are specifically due to the fact that they are illegal rather than reflecting intrinsic value or production costs. The risks carried by the producers and suppliers are translated into inflated prices, their blatant profiteering pushing prices still higher - often by several 1000 percetange points. Unlike saffron, for example, which is laboriously produced from individual dried stigma of the saffron crocus, marijuana is laughably easy to produce in large quantities for almost no cost. Similarly, cocaine would probably cost no more than asprin to produce, were it a more conventional legally regulated product. This graphic reproduced in the recent UKDPC report on drug markets illustrates the point:



Going by these estimates, cocaine at its farmgate price (still arguably inflated over legal production) would be about $600 a pound, putting it just above peacock feathers, and somewhere between 1 and 2 dollar bills. To put this in perspective the mad scientists estimate that illicit cocaine currently costs the same, by weight, as 50 dollar bills. So curiously enough it turns out that one gram of cocaine costs $50, and a $50 bill weighs one gram. All the drug dealing gangsters will laugh at that; prohibition for them is quite simply a license to print money.

Lets just hope no-one finds a way of smoking antimatter.

14 comments:

Anthony said...

"It should, of course, be pointed out that the ridiculously inflated prices of illegal drugs are specifically due to the fact that they are illegal rather than reflecting intrinsic value or production costs."

This is fair comment, but does not explain the cost of popcorn in cinemas, which I am told, by someone in the business, is far more profitable than cocaine.

Stephen said...

Well I'll agree that popcorn is overpriced, but I've never been offered it at £50 a gram. I'm not convinced

Jock Coats said...

Thing is - you need two of those bills to actually use the stuff!

:)

I've always said it is simply not value for money. You might as well take a double hot lava java espresso as a snort of cocaine!

As to LSD, that's just a joke surely. The RSA report put it at the bottom of the harm list didn't it? Isn't it also fairly easy to synthesize from things like brewing processes?

Jakk said...

"As to LSD, that's just a joke surely. The RSA report put it at the bottom of the harm list didn't it? Isn't it also fairly easy to synthesize from things like brewing processes?"

I think the thing about the cost of LSD here is that it is per pound, which is an awful lot of LSD for the effect it is taken for. LSD is normally taken in amounts of less than a drop.
Potency is not represented on this table.

Steve Rolles said...

yes, I think a pound of LSD would be somewhere in the region of 200 million doses.

Anonymous said...

'Isn't it also fairly easy to synthesize from things like brewing processes?'

Not at all. LSD is an incredibly complex chemical to synthesise, you would have to have a degree in chemistry before even having a chance of understanding how to do it. And it's so expensive per pound because a dose, which normally costs around £5 in the UK, is usually no more than 100 micrograms, i.e. 0.0001 grams.

Anonymous said...

Why the hell is printer ink still so damn expensive?

Jock Coats said...

Well - it certainly looks like a good use for a degree in chemistry at those prices...:)

Only physics trumps it!

mugsandmoney said...

Re: Printer ink - I guess the stat. is based on full RRP of branded cartridges.

All low-price computer printers are sold below the cost of production. HP, Epson & co rely on aftermarket sales of ink and toner at a healthy margin.

Humber said...

Popcorn is expensive because the additional profits are used to subsidise the ticket cost, and so attract a wider audience.
Some of the audience go to see the film only, and are sensitive to ticket price, while others go 'for a night out', when popcorn and intermission treats are part of the experience.
High ticket prices tend to dissuade both groups.

MttJocy said...

Re: Why the hell is printer ink still so damn expensive?

Printer ink is actually a complex mixture often containing dozens of complex pigments, solvents and other chemicals that produce the final ink. (This can be confirmed by getting a little blob of it onto a porous paper strip about 0.5 centimeters from the bottom and placing it into approx 0.2 centimeters of acetone or similar the different pigments will separate out due to their different densities)

Also most of these pigments are rather complex synthetic molecules which are not easy to produce.

Then there is also the requirements for the production storage and handling of the ink before it is packages it is essential to avoid contamination especially dust even the smallest particles of it so a complete cleanroom environment whenever it is being synthesized, blended or filled into cartridges (The cartridge itself must also be manufactured under these conditions) the resulting ink can easily be unusable in a printer, or worse actually damage the printer hardware if it has contamination inside it.

And the blending process is also quite tricky small discrepancies can cause issues, of course there is also the fact it does sell with an very high markup especially as the actual printer hardware is often subsided for sale at a lower up front cost which is made back by a premium on the price of the consumables.

Steve Jones said...

The real cost of printer ink can be seen by buying the generic stuff in bulk at a small fraction of the proprietary stuff (which works very well in my printer).

Now I realise that the manufacturers own stuff may be that bit better, but it works for me.

Of course the real reason that this stuff is so expensive is that the printer manufacturers are able to lock in the consumer with various technical methods and use of legal action to prevent the operation of a competitive market. It's rather as if a manufacturer engineered a car with a tank filler system which could only attach to the manufacturers own fuel delivery system.

Of course a lot of that expensive ink goes in the start-up priming systems and cleaning cycles.

Yes - I am aware that the ink is used to subsidise the printer manufacturing business, but that itself is wastefull. It has got so bad that I know of people who have bought new printers as an alternative to buying new cartridges for the old one...

Anonymous said...

A pound of LSD makes 4,480,000 doses. A gram costs 10,000-20,000 depending on your connection and how much they want to inflate it to. Here in california, a gram is easily obtainable for 10,000. Gram = 1,000,000ug = 10,000 doses so $1 per dose. 4,480,000 x $1 = under 5mil. And thats with NO DISCOUNTS going from 1 gram to 1 pound (448gram) In reality a pound of LSD is going to cost you between 1-3million. 5 million is at $1 each and thats a high price considering the quantity purchased.

$55million would mean you are buying each hit at 12.25 a piece. If I buy a single hit, it costs no more than 6-10 dollars.

Average hit is 100ug

Anonymous said...

That would mean each dose is 28¢…not possible