Should we repeal prohibition?


We are back in 1933, about to repeal the amendment to the US constitution, passed in 1919.  The 21st amendment would repeal the Volstead Act that made alcohol illegal. 

Opponents of the change point out that repeal will make alcoholism more widespread, which supporters concede.  They claim it will result in more alcohol-related diseases, also conceded.  They predict more alcohol-related deaths, also conceded.  They say it will ruin more lives, which the pro-alcohol lobby admit is probably true.  They say poor people will spend money on alcohol instead of food for their families, which they might well.

Bewildered, those who oppose repeal ask why anyone should support it, given all this.  The answer is that the present situation has given us Al Capone.  It has given us criminal gangs, corrupt police chiefs and judges and widespread disrespect for the law.  The war on booze has turned an everyday recreation into a criminal activity.  Furthermore, it has clearly failed.  It has not stopped drinking.  Instead it has given us booze of uncertain and dangerous quality, at prices that reflect criminality rather than production costs.  It is time to do something else.

Fast forward to the present day and many similar arguments could be made about narcotics.  Yes, all of those bad things might happen, but we would reduce deaths from adulterated or poisoned doses. Government could regulate for quality. It could gain revenue by taxing them.  Teenagers would no longer need to murder each other on the streets in drug turf wars because without illegality there would be not enough money in it.  Much police time and prison space would be saved.

It might indeed be time to do something else.