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One can indeed brew love in a bottle

The love potion set comes with two vials. One is for the intended lovee, and one for the lover. The lovee must drink their potion first, and will be emitting pheromones detectable by the lover. The lover, after drinking the potion, will detect the pheromones (if the lovee is nearby of course, such as in the same room) and undergo a permanent neural rewiring, making them feel a strong overwhelming sense of love, devotion, physical and psychological attraction towards the lovee.

Any previous sexual or romantic commitment (or lack of any commitment) will seem like a distant memory from another life.

Even if the lover is aware of the artificial nature of the potion effect, this does not diminish the strength of the effect.

The effect is permanent, insofar as it generates the same changes to the brain as falling very hard for someone naturally would. That does not mean the love will last forever, unless of course the ensuing relationship is of such a nature as to make that happen, or the two agree to take another dose.

The potion only works one way (Lover A falls in love with lovee B, if you want B to also fall in love with A you need two sets of potions)

The potential for misuse is there and glaring (Many would want to get Mr. or Mrs. Perfect to love them with unremitting devotion, and only them, and others yet would use the one-way devoted love for dark nefarious purposes) so the main idea is that I want to devise a way to make the potion only work among two consenting adults.

Both must make a free, conscious and clear-minded decision before the vials are opened. How could these potions be regulated (or perhaps the bottles modified) such that that is the only possible activation pathway?

Edit: I am surprised I have to say this, since magic was never mentioned above, only brain chemistry, but I see no magic being involved in the first place. In either the potion or the usage-restrictions. Strictly non-magical.

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    $\begingroup$ I have this crazy idea, and I'm just going to throw it out there: magic. :-P $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Jun 16 '16 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ What happens if a lot of people drink potion A and one drinks potion B in their presence, and vice versa? What if a lot of people take both? What if I take both potions alone? $\endgroup$ Jun 16 '16 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ You don't seem to be mentioning anything about the technology level or what role magic plays in your world setting in this questiong. I would've liked to know more about those before attempting to answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 16 '16 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ Define "regulated"? Regulated by whom? $\endgroup$ Jun 17 '16 at 5:38
  • $\begingroup$ Also, what exactly is the point of a love potion where both parties are consenting? Why would they need a potion? $\endgroup$ Jun 17 '16 at 6:01
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The best limits would be one enforced by the potion itself

How to enforce this mutual consenting adult rule

Increase the number of doses and application time Rewiring the human brain doesn't happen in an instant, it requires two, three, even five weeks of daily doses to change. The person will gradually be more and more in love. This gives a person being dosed covertly time to discover and stop the nefarious attack, it also is a bit more realistic. Its much harder to be fooled or make a rash decision 14 times than it is to be fooled once.

Make it reciprocal It is always brewed in pairs and mixed before shipment and sale. So you drink a lover and lovee potion that have been mixed together and you partner drinks the corresponding lovee and lover potions. So you will fall for the person you dose and so will be unable to take advantage of them, or vice versa. This doesn't remove all risk because some commoner would still like to dose the prince even if it means having to love him.

As for adult that is a bit tricky because making it illegal for children doesn't usually work, see alcohol.

The best limit and most likely is that some of the pheromones, hormones, and brain chemistry involved don't really activate until puberty, so the potion doesn't work until you are a teenager.

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    $\begingroup$ Regarding the reciprocal idea: The usual use-case for a love potion is making someone fall in love with you you are already in love with. Imagine I am a crazy stalker who is already obsessively in love with you. What would I have to lose by slipping us both a love potion? $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Jun 18 '16 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ It doesn't solve all cases of misuse, but would work well for those were the potions would be used to manipulate people into actions that are bad for them (e.g. giving you their entire property before you dump them). $\endgroup$ Jun 19 '16 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Philipp it also would also change the stalker to have the victims best interests at heart "overwhelming sense of love, devotion " stalking tends to be from obsession not so much love. The repeated doses would be the real protection against it, the reciprocal nature would make it less evil if it happened. $\endgroup$ Jun 20 '16 at 4:39
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Have both individuals involved in the potion's manufacture

The manner that this happens depends on how much you are willing to suspend reality. Both lovers visit the local alchemist and contribute something personal, say a personal magic seal. The alchemist then takes the two seals and produces the potion out of it. The potion only works for those two individuals. This way, there are no "open-ended" potions that could be abused.

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  • $\begingroup$ Instead of a seal, you could use hair or skin cells or something. $\endgroup$
    – Martin_xs6
    Jun 16 '16 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin_xs6 I thought of a hair initially (standard witch's brew ingredient), but thought that could be too easily exploited for "dark nefarious purposes" $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Jun 16 '16 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ how about toenails? It's harder to get one of those discretely! $\endgroup$
    – Martin_xs6
    Jun 16 '16 at 19:57
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Outside of making the potion work this way by definition (aka: magic or whatever), what you want is impossible. So long as the potion is able to do its job sans-consent, then it will be used that way.

The most you could do is minimize the opportunities for abuse.

If part of the potion's ingredients come from the people in question, it would be entirely possible to steal them. Hair, skin, blood, it isn't too hard to render someone insensate and extract the necessary tissue from them. One forced imbibing later, and they'll be willing to lie to the police about being abducted and forced to drink the concoction.

So that's not a functional solution.

The problem with regulation by some agency is that it would just create a black market. Not that this would matter, since the potion as you have described it would quickly lead to complete societal breakdown. After all, you're giving people the ability to create devoted slaves. Why bother with a harem, when you can enslave police officers, government officials, or whomever? You could even do a multi-level thing, where your slaves enslave others in your name.

If you want a solution where it is difficult to abuse, and hard to do without being detected, then you should add a time factor to it. That is, the "lovee" must be in the presence of the pheromones for an extended period of time, repeatedly, over the course of several weeks. And that the symptoms could come on slowly, so if someone doesn't want it, they can still act to stave it off before it fully takes hold.

Oh sure, you'll still have people who are able to abduct someone and bend them to their will over the course of weeks. But it wouldn't be a quick "drug someone at a bar" kind of thing. So you'll cut down a lot on the number of people who have this happen to them. Also, it'll be much clearer to the authorities what is going on.

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I suppose it could be a controlled substance like GHB and stuff. Granted, that would probably work about as much as it does on GHB and stuff.

If the potion was very distinctive looking, with a very distinctive smell and taste, that would make it quite hard to spike drinks with it. If you order a beer and it looks purple and smells like vomit, chance are you'll know something is off. The limitation here is that you could still conceivable take advantage of someone who is high as a kite (unless the smell/color/taste was so bad it would make you sober on the spot and realize you were getting spiked).

You could also say a ludicrous amount of potion is required for the effect to have any hold. Like, a liter. You are unlikely to drink a liter of potion by accident.

None of that would prevent someone from tying another person up and force feeding (force drinking?) them, but I don't think there are many protections against that beyond straight up magic.

I'm neither good at biology nor chemistry, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a particular molecule in your brain parts responsible for love and emotions, conceivably your potion could only work if that particular molecule was present in quantity, e.g. if you had true feeling to begin with.

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Could the potion be modified somehow so that it can't survive for long (more than a few seconds) outside the specialised (and very distinctive looking) bottle?

Anyone drinking it must swallow it almost immediately or it won't work. This will prevent spiking drinks, and it will also prevent coercion as someone being forced to drink it could hold it in their mouth for a few seconds before swallowing.

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The people make an appointment and come in to a clinic to be dosed in a controlled setting. No bottles. Rather, they sit in chairs like at the dentist and are hooked up to monitors including EEG, and receive a controlled dose through a face mask.

You have bureaucratic red tape and procedure, with record keeping. People using it must present in person. It would be difficult to get it for someone else or remove it from the premises. It would still be possible with enough inside people, but so is the case with Ebola virus, right?

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, but that does not prevent unauthorized use... $\endgroup$ Jun 16 '16 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @SerbanTanasa you simply make sure only the clinic has access to it. $\endgroup$
    – PyRulez
    Jun 17 '16 at 14:39

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