Today, December 5th, marks the 75th anniversary of the 21st amendment being enacted and the official ending of prohibition. The booze blackout lasted from 1920-1933 and of course, the great social experiment policy was an utter disaster:
It did reduce overall consumption of alcohol in the U.S., but that reduction came largely among those who consumed alcohol responsibly. The actual harm caused by alcohol abuse was made worse, thanks to the economics of prohibitions.
Black market alcohol was of dubious origin, unregulated by market forces. The price premium that attaches to banned substances made the alcohol that made it to consumers more potent and more dangerous. And, of course, organized crime rose and flourished thanks to the new market created by the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act.
So hospitalizations related to alcohol soared. And so did violent crime. Corruption flourished, as law enforcement officials in charge of enforcing prohibition went on the take, from beat cops all the way up to the office of the United States Attorney General. Even the U.S. Senate had a secret, illegal stash of booze for its members and their staffs.
Our current government's never ending futile war on drugs and the prohibition's ineffective results are eerily similar bankrupt public policies.
Hopefully, sane political leaders will someday realize the economic benefits to legalizing and regulating marijuana but I highly doubt it. My main man, Professor Juan Cole, sure does see the ganja light.
There's no question that drug prohibition has been every bit the failure alcohol prohibition was. Nearly 40 years after the CSA passed, we have 400,000 people in prison for nonviolent drug crimes; a domestic police force that often looks and acts like an occupying military force; nearly a trillion dollars spent on enforcement, both here and through aggressive interdiction efforts overseas; and urban areas that can resemble war zones.
Yet illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana are as cheap and abundant as they were in 1970. The street price of both drugs has actually dropped—dramatically—since the government began keeping track in the early 1980s.
The main difference between the two prohibitions is that one was enacted lawfully, and once it became clear that it had failed, we repealed it (and government revenues soared with new alcohol taxes). As the drug war has failed, the government merely claims more powers to fight it more aggressively.
We will have to wait until Generation X gets totally in power and these old hippie hating bastards die off. I will refrain my the thousand word rant that I want to unleash about the US government's draconian laws, especially under George W Bush, against pot heads for now because this is a day of celebration and remembrance.
It is very weird that the state of Utah, home to the gay and booze hating Mormons, cast the deciding vote to repeal prohibition.
Would college be as fun, could ugly people hook up, or weddings and family events seem tolerable without booze? Booties Calls, the Walk of Shame, Happy Hour Heroes, Liquid Lunches, Drunk Dialing, Late Night Food runs are only made possible because of booze. Tailgating and alcohol go hand in hand.
Man, I am getting thirsty and my shakes are starting earlier than normal so I better stop. Go get a cocktail, a buzz and wake up with something strange tomorrow.
The Puritans and moral police suffered a huge defeat 75 years ago today. Hip Hip HOORAY!
Happy Repeal Day!
Aw Shit, It's Friday Craig..........Puff, Puff, Give