Today, to see a film of a task force of Federal Agents and local Police raiding an establishment selling alcoholic beverages, with political figures costumed in riot gear proudly overseeing law enforcement officials breaking open casks of alcohol, causing them to flow into gutters in some symbolic victory over evil, is either to view a scene from the movie farce “Some Like It Hot” or an aged news clip of a quaint act of total futility and stupidity.
Yet, Prohibition, called the Volstead Act, after Congressman Andrew J. Volstead, was actually enacted in Congress as an Amendment to the United States Constitution. It totally prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of any alcoholic beverages except for medicinal purposes.
Prohibition also ushered in an era of speakeasies, criminality, violence, and graft unprecedented in American history. Indeed, the era prompted then popular humorist Franklin Pierce Adams to pen lines that seem particularly poignant today:
“Prohibition is an awful Flop. We like it
It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop. We like it.
It’s left a trail of graft and slime,
It’s filled our land with vice and crime,
It doesn’t prohibit worth a dime,
Nevertheless, we’re for it.”
Prohibition got the heave ho from no less a personage than Hyde Park’s own Franklin Delano Roosevelt, part of whose 1932 campaign for president was built on a platform plank of elimination of the mass stupidity of Prohibition.
The laws that make the manufacture, sale, and transportation of drugs today, which laws have ushered in an era of criminality, violence, and graft truly unknown before on the face of the earth, which literally absorb half the time of our police and courts, which fill half our present jails, which prompt dull politicians to call for more cells, are equally unenforceable, ineffective, and downright stupid as was Prohibition.
No one is advocating drug use. So don’t get all twisted out of shape. What is being advocated is the elimination of drug trafficking by legal fiat.
You see, there are two drug problems today, not one. Read it again, two drug problems, not one.
The two problems hardly deserve to be side by side.
Problem Number one, by far, is trafficking, the evil that brings with it vast profits, and world wide corruption, violence, smuggling, and death. The second problem is addiction, human beings seeking solace, dreams, a surcease of their problems in the same manner as some citizens drink, eat, or gamble to excess.
Does any reader, any reader at all, doubt that by a stroke of a pen, such as that from F.D.R. at the death knell of Prohibition, the legalization of drugs, the legal channeling of drugs, as alcohol was in 1930, would not instantly, the same day, eliminate the vast profits of the drug business, which would, effectively, eliminate trafficking?
If you doubt that trafficking – remember, just the trafficking – would NOT be eliminated from our lives by the channelling of drugs through the same legal conduit as alcohol is sold today, please write to our Publisher. Let’s have a poll. Let’s start it today, in the home county of F.D.R.
Who of you, think that trafficking would not be eliminated by legalization of drugs, permitting it to be controlled, sold, obtained, through legally regulated and supervised distribution entities, whether hospitals or other facilities?
As for addiction, hey, you’ve figured the rest of this out before I even get a chance to write it. Addicts, those of our relatives, children, friends, neighbors hooked on cocaine instead of vodka, on marijuana instead of cake, on pills instead of football and horse betting, hell, there will be help for them. They could come out of the closet, seek aid, join Drugs Anonymous.
Meanwhile, the rest of society could stop looking over its shoulder, for the mugger who needs very large sums of money for his/her fix, who need to break into stores and cars, scratching desperately for enough to pay off the trafficker. There won’t be traffickers. Rather, there will be places where drugs could be purchased by those who need them. And help will be there and available as well.
Isn’t it better to de-criminalize and, at the same time, de-glamorize drugs for our youth. It was awfully fashionable for the flappers and dandies of a few years ago to go out to speakeasies. Now, it’s kind of cool to be on something, to show what real sports the kids are, to show their friends how bold, how in, how now they are.
Legalization will make doing drugs as glamorous as being a fall down drunk.
Can we hear from you? Please don’t write about addiction. We know it will still be there. But at least we can get to deal with it in the open, treat it, resolve it, cure it.
Remember, if you have a choice between disorder or injustice, pick injustice. When there is dis-order, you can deal with nothing. In an ordered society, you can deal with injustice.
So, too, where there is a choice between trafficking and addiction, pick addiction. Without the profits, the violence, and the graft, we could devote those vast assets to curing addiction.