Mar 22 2010

Prohibition Just Doesn’t Work

written by: John under Random Comments: Comments Off

In the 1920s, the “noble experiment,” which was the national prohibition of alcohol, was introduced to the American public as an attempt to reduce corruption and crime, solve problems in the social fabric of America, reduce tax burdens that were rising as a result of poorhouses and prisons, and to improve the overall health and hygiene of the United States.

The experiment ultimately failed, but the movement lasted until 1933. While prohibition of alcohol was in fact a failure, we learn an important lesson that should reminisce in the minds of political leaders who seem to too often forget that history repeats itself. What remains of the past is evidence that affirms that prohibition just doesn’t work when it comes to current issues such as the United State’s war on drugs, abortion, insider trading, and even online poker. The concept even reaches as far to encompass regulated activity like alcohol and tobacco consumption and censorship.

While alcohol intake by the public did decrease at the onset of Prohibition, it later continuously increased. As alcohol remained unregulated, it eventually became dangerous to consume and instead of decreasing crime, crime suddenly became organized. This ultimately led the prisons and courts to be extended to the point of breaking, as well as corruption among public officials, as they were influenced more and more by illegal activity. In addition, the inaction of prohibition had removed tax revenue on alcohol, which was a significant source of income for the US government, but alternatively created more government spending. Many drinkers were even led to other vices such as marijuana, opium, patent medicines, cocaine, and other dangerous and unregulated substances that would have been less prominent without prohibition.

Speaking of marijuana, it would not be correct for anyone to assume that this substance has been considered a longstanding illegal and dangerous drug. It’s quite the opposite, actually. The powers that be, who ultimately made the decision that this plant would be illegal, were only influenced by their own political agenda, not by the facts. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

According to Pete Guither of, the reasons marijuana is illegal follow: racism; fear; protection of corporate profits; yellow journalism; ignorant, incompetent, and/or corrupt legislators; and personal career advancement and greed. Guither goes on to describe the history of marijuana, for the most part, as being completely legal, as it is not a newly discovered plant, and has in fact, only been illegal for 1% of the time since it was discovered, with known use going back to at least 7,000 BC. It was actually legal up until around the time that Ronald Reagan was a child.

While hemp was not used as a recreational drug until the 1900s, it was used in the US for cloth, food, incense, and other uses from the 1600s. In 1619, a law was actually passed that required farmers to grow hempseed, and many other similar laws were introduced throughout the following 200 years. It was a necessity in war for rope and other materials. During times of shortage in Virginia, between 1763 and 1767, farmers were actually put in jail if you didn’t grow hemp, and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp as their primary or secondary crops. The 1850 US Census counted more than 8,320 hemp plantations. Hemp was legal tender and it was even used as currency to pay taxes.

Fast forward to 1884. Maine is the first US state to outlaw alcohol. In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act is passed to form the Food and Drug Administration, serving as the first time drugs were overseen by the government. In 1914, opiates and cocaine are outlawed. In the 1910s, states begin passing anti-marijuana laws. In 1919, the 18th Amendment is added to the Constitution of the United States that prohibits alcohol. By 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified, repealing the prohibition of alcohol.

The fact is that prohibition just doesn’t work, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, or online poker. Prohibition leaves the job of supplying illegal substances to other people, who must turn to breaking the law. The alternative is that reputable, tax-paying companies could supply the substances in a regulated structure.

In the case of online poker and online gambling, the profits go right out the door of the US, and not only do the profits go out the door, so does the opportunity to tax the income. If online poker were legalized and regulated, the participants in the industry would not breed law breakers out of otherwise ordinarily law-abiding citizens. The bottom line is that illegalizing anything that society loves will undoubtedly force society to find some way to obtain that thing, even if it’s illegal. Since online poker is fairly new to the world, then there is hope for understanding that leads to regulation, at least more so than there is with cocaine, or even marijuana, which at least has medicinal purposes on its side.

Ultimately, the US bowed down to alcohol and realized that they couldn’t beat it, but with the development of technology that seems to advance light years in mere months, the online phenomenon could get too big, even for the US government, to control if they don’t get a hold on it in the near future.

Comments Off - Click Here to Speak Up