Eighty years ago today, on December 5, 1933, prohibition of alcohol use ended in the United States. You gotta love the preciseness with which the end of prohibition is reported: @ 5:32 PM EST when Utah was the 36th state to ratify the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Earlier that day, the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified the amendment setting the bar up for Utah.
Our friends at High West based in Park City, Utah, have a whiskey to commemorate the event:the 36th Vote Barreled Manhattan. I’ll drink to that!
The prohibition of alcohol, like all prohibitions that are based on bad public policy, biased “studies” and excessive moralizing, was a total disaster from the start. Prohibitions that take away existing rights or social practices never work. Alcohol and gun control are two of the best examples: you can’t take something away from someone once they have experienced it legally.
It’s ironic today that the images and stories of the days of alcohol prohibition are popular fare, sexy, engaging, box-office hits—almost inducing a longing for the “good ole days.” The popular prohibition-based TV series Boardwalk Empire comes to mind. So does The Godfather and the two sequels. The Godfather is on everyone’s Top 10 movie list. It’s clear that the prohibition-era entertainment industry is endless: the bad days are now good fun and profitable.
The damage done by other similar prohibitions is not fun. It’s time now to end the prohibition of marijuana use—a dramatically safer drug then alcohol ever was. It’s time to stop jailing over a million Americans who have been caught up in the contemporary dragnet of silly marijuana enforcements—picking the low-hanging fruit on the crime tree.
Legalization, of course, implies social acceptance. If that is too big a step, then possession for personal use of marijuana should not be criminalized as it is today. In other words, it should be decriminalized, treated the way we manage driving violations.
There is no viable social or rational political reason to continue the prohibition and criminalization of the simple possession and personal use of marijuana.
Who says so?
Well, cooler heads (no pun intended) are speaking out and standing up. None other than former UN Secretary Kofi Annan, former Republican Secretary of State George Shultz and former Chairman of the Federal Reserve—the Federal Reserve—Paul Volker. They were part of recently released Global Commission on Drug Policy that called for top to bottom reform of global drug policies, including the decriminalization of marijuana. The results of this comprehensive policy study were endorsed by former US President Jimmy Carter.
All of this is a prelude to the 2016 UN General Assembly Session on Drugs. Will the new/old wisdom of failed prohibitions prevail with the global village elders who gather to reason together? Let us hope so. The forces financially entrenched in this drug war—presidents, politicians, local law enforcement departments, prisons, treatment programs, “education” programs—are a formidable roadblock to reform. But the consensus building around the Global Commission report may just be the ticket to reform.
For a full and informative discussion of the failure of marijuana policies and the colossal costs of the “war” on drugs go here. Be sure to check out the Drug Sense [less]War Clock. It looks like the Federal Debt clock–ticking away the rising costs by the second. It keeps track of the money wasted on the Federal “war” on drugs. At the time of this post it was over $13 trillion—that’s a 13 with a dozen zeros. All wasted, all up in smoke, but going on endlessly.
Twenty states have approved the use of medical use of marijuana. That’s a start, but I thought it was all “medicinal” from the start? But if the abuses of any kind of prohibition can end with a doctor’s prescription…I’ll toke it.