Pot Prohibition Benefits No One

Jul 9, 2012

You can’t visit a win­ery estab­lished in the 19th cen­tury with­out hear­ing about the heroic efforts made to pre­serve the ancient vines that pro­vide the grapes, which with time and care, pro­duce wine. From 1920 until 1933, the man­u­fac­ture, sale and trans­porta­tion of alco­hol within the USA was pro­hib­ited. So called “Pro­hi­bi­tion” was an effort to con­trol the u se of alco­hol, espe­cially among the work­ing classes. Its roots stretch even ear­lier in our his­tory. Before Pro­hi­bi­tion began, the brew­ing, wine-making and dis­tillery busi­nesses in the nation rep­re­sented about 14 per­cent of the econ­omy, and employed thou­sands. It took the Great Depres­sion to con­vince vot­ers that maybe Pro­hi­bi­tion was not such a good idea. Pro­hi­bi­tion began with the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the 18th Amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion. Inter­est­ingly, drink­ing itself was never made ille­gal. Those who had the money could con­tinue to con­sume alco­hol as they pleased, from pri­vate stocks. Every Pres­i­dent dur­ing the period, and over 80 per­cent of Con­gress had their own pri­vate stashes of alco­hol. The peo­ple affected by this law were the work­ing classes and the poor. The orig­i­nal thought was that if the sale of alco­hol was made ille­gal, peo­ple would not con­sume it. We could con­trol the risk of alco­holism, and reduce the prob­lems often asso­ci­ated with it. Instead, peo­ple went to extremes to obtain it. The advent of Pro­hi­bi­tion was a bonanza for orga­nized crime, boot­leg­gers, and of all things, Cana­dian man­u­fac­tur­ers. Canada and other neigh­bors like Mex­ico never made the man­u­fac­ture and sale of alco­hol ille­gal. Alco­hol was boot­legged into this coun­try and then sold at great (non-taxed) profit, esti­mated by the end of pro­hi­bi­tion to exceed $2 bil­lion a year. Hence, the rise of Al Capone and the so-called mob. Home dis­till­ing became pop­u­lar, and thou­sands died because of the lack of reg­u­la­tion. Pro­hi­bi­tion was repealed in 1933 with the 21st Amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion, in the heart of the Great Depres­sion. Bud­weiser sent a truck-load of beer to the White House to honor the occa­sion, deliv­ered by their famous Clydes­dales. We face a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion today around the pros and cons of the legal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana. An arti­cle in Sunday’s New York Times (”Cities Balk as Fed­eral Law on Mar­i­juana Is Enforced”) high­lighted Arcata in the dis­cus­sion about med­ical mar­i­juana clin­ics. Many states, along with Cal­i­for­nia, have decided that mar­i­juana, at least for med­ical rea­sons, should be legal. Though the vot­ers have spo­ken, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to enforce its rules. Not unlike drinkers dur­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion, mar­i­juana users are forced to go under­ground. Ille­gal grow houses and tres­pass­ing on pub­lic lands are the result, with huge prof­its for those will­ing to take the risk. Need­less to say, none of this is taxed or reg­u­lated. Do we really want to con­tinue down this road? No one ben­e­fits. Pri­vate cit­i­zens, not to men­tion law enforce­ment offi­cials, are at con­stant risk because of peo­ple cul­ti­vat­ing mar­i­juana ille­gally, whether in grow houses which have become ubiq­ui­tous, or on pub­lic lands. Mar­i­juana isn’t going away, no mat­ter what the fed­eral gov­ern­ment says. The alter­na­tive to reg­u­la­tion is no reg­u­la­tion, and the chaos we expe­ri­ence is the result. Surely local gov­ern­ments are bet­ter able to deter­mine which clin­ics are legit­i­mate and which are not. By blindly threat­en­ing every clinic, as has become the fed­eral government’s pol­icy today, we shoot our­selves in the foot. The rich, as usual, can do pretty much what they want, as they always have. It is the med­ically legit­i­mate mar­i­juana users who are forced under­ground, into the black mar­ket, much as in Pro­hi­bi­tion days. For a small town, Arcata has a big rep­u­ta­tion. We are known for many things, from big trees and beau­ti­ful beaches, to being capi­tol of the so-called “Emer­ald Tri­an­gle.” Per­haps we can also help the nation move for­ward in mean­ing­ful dia­logue about the so-called war on drugs. Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA) Copy­right: 2012 Times-Standard Con­tact: http://​www​.times​-stan​dard​.com/​w​r​i​t​eus Web­site: http://​www​.times​-stan​dard​.com/ Author: Eric Duff

c482254131bust 2.jpg 150x99 Pot Prohibition Benefits No One

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Pot Pro­hi­bi­tion Ben­e­fits No One

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