Seventy five years ago today, alcohol prohibition was repealed in the US. Of course, I believe that all drugs should be legalized, and that prohibition doesn't stop people from using drugs any more than abstinence-only education stops teens from fucking.
Interestingly, the number of people who agree with me seems to be increasing. Here are a few snips from a Reuters opinion article written by Bernd Debusmann called Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs, go read the whole thing and take some time to read the comments too:
The war on drugs has helped turn the United States into the country with the world’s largest prison population. (Noteworthy statistic: The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and around 25 percent of the world’s prisoners). Keen demand for illicit drugs in America, the world’s biggest market, helped spawn global criminal enterprises that use extreme violence in the pursuit of equally extreme profits.
Over the years, the war on drugs has spurred repeated calls from social scientists and economists (including three Nobel prize winners) to seriously rethink a strategy that ignores the laws of supply and demand.
Under the headline “The Failed War on Drugs,” Washington’s respected, middle-of-the-road Brookings Institution said in a November report that drug use had not declined significantly over the years and that “falling retail drug prices reflect the failure of efforts to reduce the supply of drugs.”
“In the 20s and 30s, we had Al Capone and his gangsters getting rich and shooting up our streets,” said Nelson, who spent a 32-year government career fighting drugs in the U.S. and Latin America. “Today we have criminal gangs, cartels, Taliban and al-Qaeda profiting from the prohibition of drug sales and wreaking havoc all over the world. The correlation is obvious.”
The before-and-after sequence is so obvious that the U.S. Congress passed a resolution in September noting that the 1933 repeal of alcohol prohibition had replaced a “dramatic increase” in organized crime with “a transparent and accountable system of distribution and sales” that generated billions of dollars in tax revenues and boosted the sick economy.
Here are some statistics regarding alcohol prohibition and crime in the 1920s:
"The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile and children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent."
Reverend Billy Sunday delivered this quotation during a speech at the beginning of prohibition. Many people believed and hoped that prohibition would make the above true. However, as they watched and waited, they realized that nothing was improved, and somehow, things had gotten worse.
The following are statistics detailing how much worse crime got:
Police funding: INCREASED $11.4 Million
Arrests for Prohibition Las Violations: INCREASED 102+%
Arrests for Drunkenness and Disorderly Conduct: INCREASED 41%
Arrests of Drunken Drivers: INCREASED 81%
Thefts and Burglaries: INCREASED 9%
Homicides, Assault, and Battery: INCREASED 13%
Number of Federal Convicts: INCREASED 561%
Federal Prison Population: INCREASED 366%
Total Federal Expenditures on Penal Institutions: INCREASED 1,000%
"Not only did the number of serious crimes increase, but crime became organized. Criminal groups organize around the steady source of income provided by laws against victimless crimes such as consuming alcohol or drugs, gambling and prostitution. In the process of providing goods and services those criminal organizations resort to real crimes in defense of sales territories, brand names, and labor contracts. That is true of extensive crime syndicates (the Mafia) as well as street gangs, a criminal element that first surfaced during prohibition."
"The contributing factor to the sudden increase of felonies was the organization of crime, especially in large cities. Because liquor was no longer legally available, the public turned to gangsters who readily took on the bootlegging industry and supplied them with liquor. On account of the industry being so profitable, more gangsters became involved in the money-making business. Crime became so organized because "criminal groups organize around the steady source of income provided by laws against victimless crimes such as consuming alcohol. As a result of the money involved in the bootlegging industry, there was much rival between gangs. The profit motive caused over four hundred gang related murders a year in Chicago alone."
Bootleg alcohol is what fueled the work of Organized crime. Most of the men involved in the Mafia or gangs were young immigrants. The business of bootleg alcohol was highly profitable for everyone involved which often fueled the Mafia or gang wars. By the late 1920's more than 1 million gallons of bootleg liquor had been illegally brought into the United States.
So this evening be sure to tip your glass, fire up your bong, rack a few lines, pop a few pills, and chomp down some shrooms to celebrate Repeal Day!