Today is the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.Â As a fan of alcohol in all its forms, I figured I'd write up a bit of history and my thoughts on the lessons of Prohibition.
The roots of Prohibition can be traced to the mid-1800s when certain Christian groups, particularly Methodists and later Baptists.Â Many states passed dry laws leading up to December 1917 when the eighteenth amendment was proposed.Â The amendment took over a year before it was ratified in January of 1919 when Utah approved it.Â Rhode Island and Connecticut were the only two states to not ratify the amendment, and in fact both put out statements rejecting it.
Of course many Americans did not like the government telling them what they could drink, so the new illegal status didn't really do much except create a black market.Â Now what comes with a black market?Â That's right, crime.Â If it weren't for Prohibition, do you really think gangsters like Al Capone could have made as much money as they made and had the power that they had?
We all know by now that the government is slow to realize its mistakes, and even slower when those mistakes are still being backed by powerful political groups.Â Due to the incredible influence of the religious groups who supported prohibition it took fourteen years before the twenty-first amendment was proposed in February of 1933.Â Once again, Utah was the state that made it official by crossing the 2/3 requirement on this day 75 years ago.Â South Carolina rejected the amendment and North Carolina's voters decided against having a convention to consider it.
I believe these lessons need to be applied to many other recreational-use drugs such as marijuana.Â The modern alcohol distribution system shows how to efficiently operate and regulate such drugs, and sales numbers show how many of us are responsibly using it.Â I don't see any reason the same can't apply to the world's favorite smokable plant.
Some argue that legalizing marijuana for recreational use will put everyone in danger with people working and/or driving stoned.Â Again I say just look at alcohol.Â The vast majority of the population consumes it safely and those who don't are dealt with strictly.Â When vaporized it has very little effect on respiratory health (unlike tobacco), not to mention it can be eaten, and it is impossible to overdose without a direct IV injection of THC (unlike alcohol).
It just seems hypocritical and pointless to make a safer and more enjoyable drug illegal, fueling a black market, when we could be regulating quality and funding projects with taxed while also allowing our citizens to alter their state of mind as they choose.