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Amortentia is a powerful aphrodisiac that creates an intense feeling of love or obsession in the person who drinks it. There are different kinds of these love potions, each designed to have various effects on the user. These feelings are encouraged through the increase of dopamine in the brain. Many different ingredients go into the making of a potion, including eye of newt, skin of a dead toad,etc. These ingredients are dumped into a cauldron and stirred, with an enchantment placed on the brewing stew ( double double toil and trouble). The result is a colorless, odorless liquid that leaves no trace of itself in the digestive system.

In many ways, potions like these were seen as one of those things that nobody talked about while knowing that they were bought and used. Say you wanted to win the girl of your dreams who despised you or was unaware of your existence: love potion. Want to marry a rich bachelor with millions of dollars, and set him up to have an unfortunate accident so you can collect on the insurance: love potion. However, times have changed. The current generation takes a very different view of these kinds of acts, considering it as a dangerous substance that inflicts on people's rights. This has been reflected in the modern day government, who have passed laws banning the use or sale of these potions.

There are problems with regulation however:

  1. The ingredients to make the substance are fairly common and used in many kinds of spells. Due to their necessity, the government cannot realistically simply ban these items from being sold.

  2. The exact formula for making these substances are widely known by now, with use of these potions going back many centuries. Simply censoring knowledge about how to make them is unlikely to succeed long term.

How can this ban be enforced among the populace to prevent amortentia from usage?

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    $\begingroup$ How are potions and magical effects detectable in this world? Is there a Detect Magic? Would potion sniffing dogs (weasels, fire lizards, smeerps) work? $\endgroup$ – StarHawk Oct 29 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ Best answer are those that compare your love potion to GHB or other rape-drugs. Follow them, it's a live exemple of what happens. $\endgroup$ – Echox Oct 30 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ I think there's one important detail missing: what is the duration of the potion? $\endgroup$ – Alma Do Oct 30 at 12:21
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    $\begingroup$ Compare it to murder being illegal. You cannot control all murder weapons (even if it's just because a murder can be committed with your bare hands), nor can you control knowledge about how to kill someone. Then compare it to how society prevents murder. $\endgroup$ – Gloweye Oct 30 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ What happens if someone is already under the effect of a love potion and then drinks a different one? $\endgroup$ – Philipp Oct 30 at 14:09

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Even thought the ingredients are common, that doesn't mean you have to stop the sale, only control it.

Think about what the US government has done to try to reduce Methamphetamine production in the US. A quick and dirty way to produce meth is to use psuedoephedrine at one point in the process. Pseudoephedrine is a common and effective decongestant and was sold over the counter. Now we have an ID driven method to control the sale to prevent huge amounts from being purchased and used to cook Meth. You can still buy it for legal purposes, but the government knows and limits how much in a given time period. The steps here are not material, but the fact that the government has put a limit in place at the most likely source for most individuals.

The following is something I remember from a medical class from long ago. I don't have sources, but the methodology is plausible and is something you might be able to use. Long ago, when it had been figured out that giving subcutaneous shots of insulin was a good way to control diabetes. It occurred to some dastardly villain that the insulin was not traceable as a poison at the time, and if enough was given to a non-diabetic, it would be lethal as it would cause acute hypoglycemia in the victim. A teeny tiny pinprick that would not be noticed in the autopsy. Once it was figured out, pharmaceutical companies had to put a chemical marker in the insulin so that any other dastardly villain trying to do the same thing would get caught in the toxicology, thus exposing the cause of death as murder.

Here is how to apply the above things. Your magic supply department of the government already knows the quantities of Eye of newt and skin of frog go into the magical roofie. Simply have the government agency apply a chemical or magical marker to those ingredients, or even better, to the toads and newts at the amphibian farms. These markers would leave a trace. The combination of the 2 markers in the appropriate amounts would be a way for concerned family to be able to find out if the love potion had been used, and undo at least some of whatever damage happened in your magical court sessions.

It's not fool proof, and may lead to black market newt and toad sales, but it will make it more difficult overall.

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    $\begingroup$ The "markers" idea seems plausible (+1 for that). The psuedoephedrine analogy somewhat breaks down, however, because someone trying to make meth is likely going to buy a lot more than a legitimate user. For love potions, that will only stop someone trying to mass manufacture the stuff; someone that only needs to make a few doses probably won't be noticed. (OTOH, if you regulate enough of the individual ingredients, you might be able to catch someone buying the right combination to make a love potion. But you might also get lots of false positives.) $\endgroup$ – Matthew Oct 29 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ The reason I left the pseudoephedrine in there is that it gives an example of the government attempting to control a substance at the source. Someone cooking meth won't be allowed (legally) to buy enough to do it though. Depending on that, if a normal person needs 4 eyes of newt to make the potion, but most other applications take 1 or 2, you could regulate things to make buying more than 3 eye of newt every 2 months illegal. If they only last a month, it's hard to legally get enough together to make the illegal potion. Not impossible, but harder. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Oct 29 at 21:17
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    $\begingroup$ The methamphetamine/psuedoephedrine analogy doesn't work at all. Consider that since that particular stupid law was enacted, meth production & use doesn't seem to have declined much, if at all, while people looking for an effective decongestant have to make do with presumably inferior ones. (Or submit to government purchase regulations, which I suspect few are willing to do - I certainly am not!) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 30 at 3:43
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    $\begingroup$ Of course there are always ways to circumvent silly government regs. I did mention the possibility of a black market starting up. If I recall, the biggest problem with the sudafed thing is that it's been out there as a generic so long that there are plenty of sources outside the US. A quick trip to Mexico can get someone enough to happily cook for a while. I seem to recall it being mentioned in Breaking Bad at one point (I could be wrong). So yeah, it's not a perfect preventative, but it is a good example of a way a silly government may try to squash production in a knee jerk kinda way. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Oct 30 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf I think you're the first person I've heard who isn't willing to show ID to buy Sudafed. And it's certainly still a profitable enough product, so I suspect that your suspicions may be mistaken. $\endgroup$ – Admiral Jota Oct 30 at 13:43
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Bottom line is that you simply can't prevent it. Harsh penalties don't work: see e.g. Prohibition, the "War on Drugs", attempts to censor pornography or "subversive" writings ("samizdat" in the USSR), and so on. So your society has to learn how to deal with it, perhaps by making it socially unacceptable, as with tobacco in recent decades, or by inventing protective measures such as antidotes.

But that last raises an interesting question: does the antidote to a love potion also make you fall out of love that wasn't induced by the potion?

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    $\begingroup$ Considering what Paul wrote , is "you can't prevent it" the wording you wanted to use? I think you add a very good point about the impossibility of totally banning and effectively removing something from the market even if only a fraction of people want to use it. But that is not to say some historical and current counter-measurements hasn't at least had an impact on how hard it was to get those substances. I would suggest saying "Bottom line is"..."You might decrease it but you cant eradicate it" or something similar. $\endgroup$ – Johan Oct 30 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Johan: But is there any evidence that the Prohibition approach has actually worked? While I have no accurate data, it does seem that drinking became more popular due to Prohibition, drug use became a counter-culture "thing" due to the "War on Drugs", &c. All it seems to do is raise the price somewhat, with the associated underground economy and increase in crime. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 30 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ regarding your last question, if it does, then is using the antidote regulated? because if it's not, now people wanting others to fall in love with them might first slip the object of their affection the antidote so they will fall out of love with whoever they are currently in love with! $\endgroup$ – Michael Oct 30 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf You are comparing oranges and apples when you are focusing on prohibition. It is explicitly stated that the magic rohypnol has fallen out of favor with society, that alone will have a decrease on usage. Prohibition was trying to ban something most people at the time used weekly many daily. War on Drugs is a better example, I'm not very read up on that since I'm not American, I have read theories on negative effect being because of youth-aimed cringe-worthy commercials like "this is your brain on drugs". I think OP is asking for technical solutions like how drugs are fought today. $\endgroup$ – Johan Oct 31 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Johan: I agree it's a better example, but Prohibition is less controversial - and easier to type :-) As for the technical solutions, that's my point. The sort of "solutions" used in Prohibition and the WonD have been demonstrated not to work in the real world. Anyone who wanted a drink during Prohibition could get one fairly easily; anyone who wants drugs today can get them fairly easily. Admittedly, they may have to pay exorbitant prices, and those on the low end of the economic scale may resort to theft &c to get the money, but assuming you have the money, it's pretty easy. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Nov 1 at 1:28
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Love potion is basically a euphemism for date rape drug. Most people IRL don't use date rape drugs. Why would your world be any different?

How to regulate drugs?

You take a piece of paper, write "list of forbidden drugs" on top, then put "love potion" under it, then pass that paper to your legislature. Now, that may be a gross oversimplification, but that's about the extent of the law: a piece of information and people willing to enforce it.

That's the important part: people willing to enforce it.

Sure, you're thinking police and judges, but what you need to think is that first word: people. You say it yourself,

The current generation takes a very different view of these kinds of acts, considering it as a dangerous substance that inflicts on people's rights.

If you ask me, you're overthinking it. Most people simply won't use it, because most people will think it is utterly wrong. All you need is your people to be educated and civilised.

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Blood tests

If you suspect that someone you know might be a victim of a love potion, the law allows you to call for a test to be done on them to check for the presence of the relevant chemical signatures in their bloodstream.

Ordinarily, doing a blood test on someone without their consent might be an invasion of their privacy, but the law allows it in this specific case due to the fact that the subject may not be in a condition to make the decision themselves while under the influence of a potion. (Compare how people can be involuntarily admitted to a mental institution in the real world if it's deemed necessary for their own safety.)

This by itself doesn't directly prevent people from using love potions, but it does provide a way to detect that it's happened and a good lead to begin investigating it. And that's the first step toward catching and prosecuting the culprit, which should hopefully act at least somewhat as a deterrent.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question explicitly says there's no trace in the digestive system though. Presumably it can't be discovered by blood tests either. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Oct 29 at 21:41
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    $\begingroup$ Wouldn’t people demand the blood test themselves, if such a thing is possible? When you fall in love you can still think rationally (to some extent) and might want to make sure that it’s real love. It would also make identifying the perpetrator rather easy, assuming it’s the target of your love. $\endgroup$ – Michael Oct 30 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael Unless it's a setup... $\endgroup$ – Michael Oct 30 at 23:24
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Force everyone to take one final love potion to fall in love with the Love Potion Prohibition.

mic drop

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    $\begingroup$ Though this would normally be too short for an answer, It's just too hilarious. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Oct 30 at 18:39
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Make everyone use it

If its cheap harmless and makes you feel good why not consume A LOT of it? Think refined sugar. People no longer let random hormonal states control their lives. Why would they if you can feel love for partner of your choosing(Choosing it self will probably change in some way). When everyone is taking love potions it will stand out big time if you are in relationship but you are not taking love potions. Basically you now choose to be in love or not. Of course not everybody will do that but either way most people will probably experience both states and there will be difference between them. Even if it's perfect (hard to believe since you describe it pretty scientifically -> it will feel different from natural hormonal stimulation.) it will be known issue. There will probably be some amount of trickery (Man found out his wife has been feeding him love potions for the past 12 years!) But it won't be that common and there will be way to check for that. But the basic idea is it's hard to slip someone something unnoticed if he is already on that drug and he is in control of what the drug is doing to him. Plus society will probably learn to recognise the signs of involuntarily love potion consumption.

As said before no amount of prohibition will make these things disappear but if the whole society decides not to buy them anymore it will become equivalent of ruffing someone... If you woke up in strangers apartment and don't know how it happened you start asking questions fast. Same thing will now happen with love. Also anything that happened while you were under love potion will probably have none/limited legal consequences(Contracts will be invalid and so on...)

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The potion might not be detectable, but it's workings could be.

The nature of love would be much easier to investigate with a potion to create it. This becomes especially true with deviants (not negatively meant) who will take a lovepotion before sex (or even just a temporary loving relationship) for the thrill and repeat it the next day/week/month with someone else and have no problem with doing a scientific experiment with some researchers.

This could give insight in what love is, but also give insight in tell-tale markers in hormones or similar that a lovepotion is taken. Love is usually something organic, changing each day based on experiences and how long the relation has lasted. The love potion's effects would likely cause total love, unconditionally all the time/every time they see the recipiant (I assume they add a bit of themselves to the potion so its not a harder to control love-at-first-sight thing). This should be detectable with blood tests.

Blood tests as answers have already been given but not with this exact method of finding it.

Find someone who used a potion? Give them a truth serum first (in case someone sets them up) and then give them a love potion for, say, the worst victim of the latest zombie outbreak.

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Enforce arranged marriages, putting love out of the picture. Let the arrangement be decided by a third party on the basis of convenience or fate, maybe through a lottery.

Whoever opposes this scheme will be punished.

In this way whoever gives and receives the potion will stand out. Then it will become a matter of lawyers to say who is guilty of what.

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    $\begingroup$ My guess is that a progressive government that is now outlawing the use/sale of love potions is probably not going to start actively enforcing that all marriages be arranged by third party. I guess it's possible, but it seems backward and unlikely to me. $\endgroup$ – Chase Roberts Oct 30 at 10:11
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    $\begingroup$ If anything this could encourage the use of love potions, so that both parties in these arranged marriages are more invested in making it work. $\endgroup$ – Kyyshak Oct 30 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ Well.. this suggestion is akin proposing to cut the limb if there's a pain in that limb. $\endgroup$ – Alma Do Oct 30 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ Give the arranged couple the love potion as part of the ceremony and it's happily ever after..... $\endgroup$ – Thorne Oct 31 at 9:57
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A simple and presumably in-genre solution would be enchanted rings which detect the drug in drinks.

cf items like https://efficientgov.com/blog/2017/05/22/5-date-rape-drug-detectors/ ... and the debate as to whether this is correct solution.

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    $\begingroup$ Or alternately, enchant the cups. It's hard to discreetly slip love potion into someone else's drink when the cup immediately turns a fetching shade of fuchsia. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Oct 30 at 10:56
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Harsh penalties.

Even if detection is absolutely impossible (which is up to you, but I imagine forensic alchemists would toil - and trouble - deep into the night to find a brew that revealed love potion's effect or presence), there's an easy parallel in real life - date rape drugs.

Often no traces are left by the time the victim is in a position to have their system tested, they're widely available because they have legitimate uses outside of the reprehensible, and are conveyed via spiking drinks or other ingestion.

People in this society would be inclined to discard drinks that they left unattended, would have friends watch the drinks, and if there were any credible claim that someone spiked a drink with love potion, the government would prosecute that person to the fullest extent of the law, with imprisonment, fines, or some cruel and unusual magic-based punishment awaiting a conviction.

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  • $\begingroup$ A problem with the last part is that the most likely culprit would be the guy/girl watching the drinks instead of the loverape person. They have the most likely reason to want to force love in the selected person. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Oct 29 at 20:24
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If it's magic, why not magic to counter it or render it inert? You could get various different possibilities if the magic is a charm someone carries, a one-time potion inoculation, a potion that has to be drunk or a spell that has to be cast at regular intervals, and so on. There'd probably be ways around all of them (a potion to negate the potion that negates the love potion), but all you're really trying to do is make it harder.

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Vaccines.

If the problem is so profound your entire court could fall to these hags drugging the lords and ladies, actions will be taken.

Coordinate a campaign with the Grand Maestre to vaccinate your population against the most common version. We still can get sick from a special strain of a disease, but 99% will be harmless.

A Potion Master working in concert with a gifted Alchemist could alter the potion to work despite the vaccine. But your run of the mill Joe who wants to buy some stuff to get the neighbour? That won't work.

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If you can't detect the chemical, perhaps you can detect the effects.

Since magic exists it could be possible to detect if someone is bewitched, even if you can't detect the magic (potion) that caused it.

Mandatory testing during marriage ceremonies would eliminate those marrying into wealth through deception.

And making it possible for a concerned friend/neighbour/relative to have someone tested just by filing an application of suspicion.

If guilt was death penalty the stakes would be high. However you'd struggle to ascertain guilt, you can't just assume the target of the lovestruck is the one that poisoned them.

Immunity

Much like quinine was introduced into drinking rations to force sailors to drink it (and thus prevent malaria), something similar could be done with a herb that prevents bewitching. Likewise, a magical spell (ward) could do the same thing.

It may not be necessary for people to force the issue, children growing up with stories about how other children didn't eat their magic mushrooms fell in love with ugly monsters that ate them could introduce a culture of vigilance, no different to a woman taking a birth control pill ever morning.

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Fluoridate the water supply:

A funny side effect of Fluor in combination with Amortentia is that the person falls in love with greens instead of people:

  • They start eating large amount of salad,
  • Go lay in the grass all day long (even when it's raining)
  • Wear green clothes only.
  • Start keeping green frogs as pets
  • ...

Look what it did for the city of Ank-Morpork: Love potion usage

Note: that city started Fuoridating their water supply in the year of the Backwards-facing Artichoke...

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