Looking Back on Prohibition

December 5th of this year marks the 80th anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition in the United States. Prohibition lasted 13 years, between January 19, 1920 and December 5, 1933. Prohibition contributed to a failing economy, directly bolstered organized crime, and remains one of the biggest public policy failures in US history.

The restaurant and entertainment industries suffered under prohibition, while thousands of workers lost jobs as barrel makers, truckers, waiters, and every other job associated with the businesses of brewing and distilling.  ProhibitionProhi also cost the federal government $300 million to enforce and lost $11 billion in tax revenue. The problems weren’t just economic; the laws that enforced prohibition were also filled with loopholes. One law allowed pharmacists to prescribe whiskey to patients, which resulted in a huge surge of pharmacy registrations. Another resulted in a surge of church and synagogue attendance, not because of any religious epiphanies but because wine was still allowed in religious services.

Crime surged under prohibition, with newly organized crime syndicates protecting and facilitating the new illicit market. Law enforcement officials were corrupted with bribes, and those that weren’t corrupt filled courtrooms and jails with prohibition offenders. The US started spending more money on the prison system and incarcerated citizens under a law that would be repealed after less than 15 years.

80 years later, we can see that the prohibition of alcohol was an enormous mistake. Americans actually drank more under prohibition than they did before it, and the illicit market for alcohol prompted a new era of organized crime. On this anniversary, let us reflect on current prohibition in the United States. How many tax dollars does the US forfeit in the name of marijuana prohibition? How many of its citizens’ tax dollars does the government waste by arresting non-violent offenders of that prohibition? How has this policy fostered the growth of organized crime and cartels in the United States and abroad? When will the end of marijuana prohibition have its anniversary?

One thought on “Looking Back on Prohibition”

  1. Why has Marijuana Prohibition dragged out for so long?
    At first it was introduced as a way to control an unwanted population during an economic depression.
    Then it was demonized by the news media to instill public fear. And was used as a political platform and a federal slush fund to further its own agenda. Then along comes the” War On Drugs” to chip away at our constitutional rights. Marijuana is now intertwined with all the truly bad drugs and drug testing is used to police the work place. Marijuana prohibition and the “War On Drugs” is now used as a bartering tool to negotiate special deals as foreign policy outside our own country.
    Marijuana prohibition has been used by the federal government to manipulate the public and the “War On Drugs” has been used to bribe and infiltrate foreign governments.
    Sounds like good reasons to drag your feet on changing the laws.

    Jimmy Potseed

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