April 7, 2011 – Seventy-eight years ago, on April 7, 1933, prohibition ended in the United States. After nearly 14 years of secretly drinking behind closed doors and in speakeasies, Americans were free once again to openly purchase and consume alcohol.
The Women’s Temperance League lobbied to have alcohol banned in 1919 because they believed it caused many of society’s problems, especially crime and murder. They also believed that saloons, which catered to men, were places of debauchery and evil.
Instead of improving society, prohibition made life worse for many people because crime and murder increased with the rise of gangsters who illegally manufactured and sold liquor. It was a strange time in our nation’s history, and it led to the only time an Amendment to the Constitution was repealed.
History does repeat itself. Although marijuana was never legal, The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) lobbies state and federal legislators to fight marijuana prohibition. Whether you agree or disagree with their cause, it’s hard to argue that just like alcohol, keeping it illegal leads to more crime and murder. Legalizing marijuana could eliminate the drug kingpins, which could cause most of the crime in Mexico and Columbia to decrease dramatically.
And is one really worse than the other? Both alcohol and marijuana have harmful effects on a person if abused. Both add an element of danger to the roads and highways if someone behind the wheel is drunk or high. However, more people die on the roads each year from alcohol abuse than any other drug.
I’m not 100% sold that legalizing marijuana is the answer, but I’m sure some said the same about alcohol in the 1930s, so it is something to think about.