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Prohibition Prohibition One of the most controversial, the Eighteenth, and later, its repeal, the Tweny-First amendment, made a big impact on America, and their ideas are still talked about today. Prohibition has had many different view points from the beginning. Prohibition started long before the Eighteenth Amendment. Organizations against alcohol such as the Anti-Saloon League and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union were succeeding in enacting local prohibition laws, turning the campaign into a national effort. In the late 1900s there was an average of one saloon for every 150 to 200 people, including nondrinkers, due to competition in brewing companies. The major complaint was the sex and gambling that went along with the saloons. Originally it was started as awartime austerity measure in 1917, and later Congress proposed the Eighteenth Amendment.

According to Dennis Mahoney, in 1919, it was ratified and went into effect. The Volstead act was sponsored by Andrew J.Volstead on October 28, 1919. It enforced the new Amendment. During Prohibition there was a slight drop in homicide rates around the country. On January 16, 1920, the great law went into effect. The Eighteenth amendment made it forbidden to manufacture, sell, transport, import or export any intoxicating liquors.

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This was controversial because it turned the common hard working man or woman, who enjoyed a drink after a hard day’s work, into a criminal in the law’s eyes. In The History of Prohibiton, a web site by J. McGrew, it states that Prohibiton also gave criminals, such as Al Capone, the opportunity to feed off the illegal substance. The organized crime circuit ate up Prohibition and began to boot leg alcohol. Local pharmacies and basements near the border became hubs for the transactions. The Big Bosses would purchase it in Canada, where it was legal and import it to the US.

A prime example of the organized crime is in the movie, Legends of the Fall. Both the Volstead Act and the Eighteenth Amendment are mentioned in the movie, as it portrays a small time boot legger going up against a big organized crime family, in the end many people lost their lives over alcohol and money. Speakeasies, illegal bars, sprang up everywhere. They promoted the worst of immorality, sex and gambling, as well as drinking. And for the first time women were seen smoking in public. Bathtub gin and other illegal brewing was everywhere. Not only was the home made booze highly potent it could also be highly fatal.

If you survived, you could very well be blind or disabled from bad rot gut. I recently spoke to my grandfather on the issue and he was quoted to say Oh sure, we brewed our own beer and wine, we didn’t care. The public was fed up. Well-organized groups like the Woman’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform grew rapidly and after thirteen years it exploded during the 1932 presidential campaign. The democrats and their delegate, Senator, Franklin D. Roosevelt, supported the reform.

Backed by the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers, Roosevelt got the repeal. On February 20, 1933, the Twenty-First Amendment was proposed and on December 5, it was ratified. The newest Amendment to the Constitution repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act. After its repeal it took a long time for the consumption rate of Alcohol to get back to the pre-Prohibition level. In closing, the Noble Experiment (a name for Prohibiton, found in many different sources) failed.

The evidence clearly shows that the conditions of the Nation were clearly better without Prohibition and the Eighteenth Amendment. One of the most discussed and debated of this century, will this issue be carried into the next on the back of Marijuana? History Essays.


Decriminalization vs. Prohibition
The idea of Drug Prohibition made sense: lower the availability of drugs by the use of law enforcement. Unfortunately, Drug Prohibition means heavy costs while proving to be ineffective and counterproductive.

I was thirteen when I saw drugs for the first time. I was with some of my friends that live down the road from me. They asked me if I wanted to get high with them. At the time, I didn’t know what getting high meant, so I asked them. One of them pulled ut a long slender object, similar to a cigarette, but twisted on either end. They told me it was something special. I was still bewildered. They said “It’s pot, you know, marijuana?” Immediately I said no. I had seen several anti-dug commercials, all with the same motto, “Just Say No”. I felt so good about myself. I had done the right thing. I said no to my friends, which is a very hard decision to make at that age. I was not going to be one of those sad cases, where my life is wasted away. I was not going to be a crazed addict, who would stop at nothing to get a hit. I was not going to be dodging the law my whole life. I was going to be everything I wanted to be, and drugs were definitely not going to get in the way. I promised myself I would not end up like Jimi Hendrix, or Janis Joplin, both found dead after overdoses, because I had the power to say no. I had read stories and seen news flashes about the side effects of some drugs. I had read newspaper articles about people in Rome, which is just a few minutes away, dying of heroin overdoses. I had seen people on TV that were alive, but were not conscious of their surroundings, because of drug use. Their lives were basically over. I had listened to speakers preach that drugs were one of the Devil’s tools. There was no way I would even consider ever trying them, because once a person starts, they can’t stop.

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It was a few years later that I heard the other side of the story. I learned that not only were we losing the war on drugs, but that the war had been corrupted. The government was wasting money on something without a cause, or hope. It wasn’t long after that when I tried marijuana for the first time. I remember it well. I was with my sister, who was the only person that I couldn’t say no to. I took a hit. Within fifteen minutes, I felt the most exquisite feeling I had ever experienced. I felt as though I was in a different world. It was at this moment that I knew things would be different for me, but I was still unsure about it, because I had heard of the dangers of drug use. I decided to do a little research. I looked in health magazines, I looked in Rolling Stone magazine, and I read some computer articles about the sixties. I also casually talked to several people who had experience with drugs. It was through this research that I found out some interesting facts.

First was the mere cost of the war on drugs. The federal government spends billions of dollars a year on drug enforcement and billions more on drug-related crimes and punishment. The estimated cost to the United States for this war on drugs is $200 billion a year, or $770 per person, according to statistics posted by CNN, and that does not include the money spent by state and local governments. Despite this expensive effort to enforce drug laws, the result is rather poor.

According to the United States history, Prohibition has not only proved ineffective, but also counterproductive, when referring to the eighteenth amendment. Not only is the illegality of drugs today also ineffective, it leads to huge profits for drug traffickers, which leads to other crimes. Studies have shown that while the amount of money spent on the war on drugs has increased dramatically, so has the amount of drug use. A study conducted by CNN has shown a twenty percent increase in the use of marijuana.

Another interesting fact is that most illegal drugs are less dangerous, and could be legal. Even harsh drugs, such as heroin and cocaine are proving to be less dangerous. In fact, in the twenties, cocaine was viewed as a wonder drug. It was an effective pain killer, it relaxed the body and proved to dramatically reduce stress, yet it showed very few side effects. After a while, however, people started finding new ways to use it. These ways would not only perform the tasks the drug was intended to perform, they would actually give the person a euphoric sensation. However, these ways of using it were not as safe as using pills or soft drinks, which also had cocaine in them. People died after inhaling too much cocaine. The government had to take action, so they made cocaine completely illegal, taking away a very good drug.Heroin is also not as bad as was originally thought. Heroin, like cocaine, is a very effective pain killer. The problem with heroin is that it is highly addictive, and too much of it can kill. However, this is the case with many prescription drugs. Too much Tylenol could kill a person, as ibuprofen is definitely harmful in large amounts. If heroin was used strictly for medical purposes, and was not only prescribed by doctors, but also regulated by doctors, it’s use could be an asset.

There is also the issue of marijuana. Every year close to twenty thousand people die of alcohol related incidents. Each year close to thirty thousand people die of tobacco related diseases, either lung cancer or emphysema, yet there has never been a death on record that is directly related to marijuana. The only deaths related to marijuana have been murders associated with drug dealers and traffickers. If marijuana was legal, these deaths would cease to occur. Also, compared to the side effects of alcohol, the side effects of marijuana are minimal. The only side effects of marijuana are induced hunger and what is referred to as “cotton mouth”, which is a dry, pasty feeling in the mouth. The side effects of alcohol, however include nausea, possibly vomiting, loss of coordination, not to mention deterioration of the liver and stomach. Marijuana, like cocaine and heroin, could also have medical purposes. THC, which is the chemical in marijuana that affects the nervous system, can be used to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients. There is virtually no solid reason why marijuana should be illegal.

I personally believe that some drugs should be legal. If they are being used for medical purposes, the government should pass legislation tightening the availability of prescriptions for these drugs, not make them completely illegal, taking away their good sides as well as their bad sides.


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