From 1920 until 1933, alcoholic beverages were outlawed in the United States during what was then called: “Prohibition” and would today be called the: “War on Booze.” Those thirteen years created, since no one stopped drinking, an illegal industry plus the law enforcement to oppose it. One result was the “Roaring Twenties” of speakeasies, gangsters, flappers and cocktails. It was a creation of Federal monetary policy as well, as was also the 1929 financial collapse that ended the party with the Great Depression. Two lessons came from that bit of history.
The first lesson: Congress cannot manage money. We paid little attention, and are therefore, now watching the fading of the American economy. The second lesson: “People will obtain what they want in spite of government.” We are beginning to recognize that as it passes in front of us yet again, this time concerning recreational drugs other than alcohol.
We gave up and legalized booze simply because the enormous cost of Prohibition in money, lives and honesty clearly were unaffordable. And the bottom line, nobody stopped drinking. Those huge costs, earned no return. Today, it’s pot, marijuana or cannibis indica if you prefer. The enormous cost of the world-wide police effort has done nothing to deprive smokers of their fix, though it has killed and jailed huge numbers of people. So pot is now legal in Colorado and a few other places.
Most Canadians and Americans expect legalized pot, per a recent poll. The big bucks opposition comes from the organized anti-drug enforcement industry, that sees its existence under threat. Since it has billions in public tax money at its disposal, it is no small opponent. It sees that once pot is sanitized into a business, most of the other mass-use drugs will inevitably follow. When enough people want something, they will obtain it, government or no. We seem to have to relearn that every couple of generations.
That will remove the current prison crisis forcing states to release prisoners for lack of a place to put them, returning a lot of folks to economic and familial usefulness. It will reduce government costs, though taxpayers best not expect to benefit. (Government will find some other use for the money.)
The hysterics appalled at this trend predict the overnight addiction of millions more hapless victims of legalized drugs. Somehow, they have failed to notice the availability of said drugs at their local schools as well as in many bars and neighborhoods. The people who want these drugs, have them, right? “Black markets” are an ancient and inevitable reaction to government prohibitions.
There is little doubt that alcohol damages a significant portion of humanity. So likewise, with other drugs. So does theft, rape, murder and other things we have elected to forbid. But we should note that forbidding does not stop them. Some percentage of our species persists in forbidden acts, regardless. Ancient and today’s Islamic societies under Sharia, cut off the right hand of thieves, yet thieves have persisted. So we are left with a cost/benefit analysis for these decisions. As social values shift, so will the decisions, since the non-shifting Judeo-Christian value set has been abandoned.
In the present case, enormous amounts of money are involved with most of it bypassing the politicians. By legalizing, the pols can turn it into taxes. Add that to the analysis; you don’t have tpo be a genius to predict what the future will bring …