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History: US Prohibition (1920-33)


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USA Freedom Blackout

Use & Disorders in the ECA

We Teach What We Know

When Prevention is DUE

Why Drug War Won't End

WOD & DUE Applied to Meth

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Your Brain on the WOD

Zero Tolerance




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History: US Prohibition (1920-33)

"Live long enough, and you'll see everything twice."

                          Richard Gicomeng                                              


An Exercise in Stupidity Repeated

Concealing alcohol wasn't all that tricky.   (Note the Swastika tiled into the floor),

Like today, the government was always confiscating someone's stash.


The trick was not to get caught with the evidence.  Just like today, it was promptly discarded.

Here's the happy couple that put together their own moonshine.  It was popular for people to make their own liquor back then.

A raid on a Washington, DC luncheon eatery -- we call them bistros today -- was as tedious as a SWAT raid today.

Just like today's clandestine meth labs, moonshining was considered dangerous and a hazard to the environment. 

Warehouse after warehouse of bootleg liquor were captured by the government, however, not a beat was missed in getting replacements. 




George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, an inspiring philosopher of the early 19th century  once remarked  "We learn from history that we do not learn from history".   There is no better example of this than the war on drugs (WOD).  The WOD is a mirror image of the Prohibition on alcohol that ripped through the 1920s, contributing to the Great Depression.   While prohibition was stupid.  The WOD is even more stupid, especially since we knew the outcome before it even started.

Richard Nixon who declared drugs the number 1 enemy that started the WOD was 7 years old at the onset of Prohibition and 20 years old when it ended.  He knew the consequences behind Prohibition.  But that's precisely it.  Just rifling through Nixon's 5 years and 201 days in office, it seems that whatever he accomplished, it was intended to make someone from the general public , fail. 

Why Prohibition? Groups such as the Anti-Saloon League and the Women's Christian Temperance Union were able to successfully convince people that alcohol was the cause of a variety of social problems. Below are some of the prevaling reasons why this national tragedy occurred.

  • Health: People believed that cirrhosis of the liver and other alcohol related deaths could be prevented. However, in 1931, Dr. Snell of the Mayo Clinic stated: "We know now that cirrhosis occurs in only 4 per cent of alcoholic individuals." He went on to say that alcohol related deaths were only responsible for less than 1.5% of total deaths at the time. The country would soon see a dramatic increase in alcohol related deaths and injuries after Prohibition went into effect.
  • Worker Absenteeism and Performance: Industrialists were concerned with worker absentee and performance problems that were blamed on over-indulgence in the saloons at night.
  • Family Life: Proponents argued that alcohol was causing rampant domestic violence and many families were without a father because they spent all of their nights drunk in saloons. As a result, a large percentage of reformers were women.
  • Germany and the War: Many people believed that drinking beer funneled money into Germany who was our enemy at the time. They also argued that available grains should be used to feed the troops rather than make alcohol.
  • Saloons and Crime: Proponents argued that there was increasing lawlessness and crime in the saloons of America. While the saloons would disappear, they would be replaced by another institution in far greater numbers.
In the United States, Prohibition was put into effect by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution (ratified January 16, 1919) and the Volstead Act (passed October 28, 1919). The Volstead Act was written by Andrew John Volstead, who was an absolute teetotaler (non-drinker). Prohibition began on January 16, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect. It banned the manufacture and sale of beverages with an alcohol content exceeding 0.5%. In some ways, the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act were largely symbolic as prohibitionists had already banned alcohol in 26 out of 48 states before Prohibition went into effect.

Prohibitionists believed that the lack of alcohol would usher in an era of economic and moral prosperity, however, the nation would soon discover that their efforts had the exact opposite effect.

The most immediate effect was the destruction of many jobs resulting from the closure

For as long as we are in a drug war, we will have the shadow of the Nixonian era cast upon us.  It is rather grave that the US Government chooses to allow the WOD because it is the most powerful legal loophole to avert discrimination.  Diversity is just another way of saying: "We discriminate!"