Prohibition - Learn from History

January 31st, 2010

The message behind the CBC’s Cannabiz show is not that Grand Forks is the pot capital and is totally crime-ridden but that in order to reduce local crime and increase a legitimate economy we need to consider abolishing the prohibition of marijuana.
Prohibition refers to a sumptuary law which prohibits the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sale of alcoholic beverages. Prohibition was spurred on by the efforts of the Temperance movement, who pressured the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation thus closing all drinking establishments, which they viewed as the source of societal ills and misery.
The reality, despite the prohibitionist’s propaganda, is that prohibition didn’t work. North Americans like to drink and there was even a rise in the number of women who drank during the era referred to as “Prohibition”, which helped change the general perception of what it meant to be “respectable” (a term prohibitionists often used to refer to non-drinkers).
Alcohol prohibition failed as bootlegging (rum-running) became widespread and organized crime took control of the distribution of alcohol whereby distilleries and breweries flourished. Enforcement of the law was also a logistical nightmare; there were never enough enforcement officers and many of them succumbed to corruption.
Quebec, Alberta, and Saskatchewan repealed their respective laws upon realizing that they were unenforceable and unpopular. As legislation prohibiting consumption of alcohol was repealed, it was typically replaced with regulations restricting the sale of alcohol to minors and imposing excise taxes on the products.
“National prohibition of alcohol (1920-33)–the “noble experiment”–was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America. The results of that experiment clearly indicate that it was a miserable failure on all counts. The evidence affirms sound economic theory, which predicts that prohibition of mutually beneficial exchanges is doomed to failure.” Alcohol Prohibition Was A Failure by Mark Thornton O. P. Alford III Assistant Professor of Economics at Auburn University.

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