Greg Beato on Creating Cash Awards for Safer Highs


Terry Colon

"Dream with me for a moment," psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel wrote in his 1989 magnum opus, Intoxication. "What would be wrong if we had perfectly safe intoxicants?" In Siegel's estimation, the desire to alter one's consciousness is a "fourth drive," a "natural part of our biology" that influences human behavior as much as hunger, thirst, and sex.

And if we can't suppress our desire to get high any more effectively than we can suppress our desire for breakfast, we should be trying to develop the safest intoxicants possible, Greg Beato argues. Imagine if, instead of trying to thwart the entrepreneurs behind products like "Bomb Marley Jungle Juice" and "AK-47 Cherry Popper," the federal government tried to actively incentivize them, by offering a billion-dollar prize to the first manufacturer who successfully produces the kind of safely domesticated mood enhancer that Dr. Siegel envisioned 25 years ago.