Prohibition: Banning alcohol was a bad idea... - Rod Phillips
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Prohibition refers to a policy of banning the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. National prohibition was introduced in a number of countries in the early 1900s, the best-known being Russia (in 1914) and the United States (in 1920). It is a radical, coercive policy introduced to deal with the small minority of drinkers who drink excessively. Because they cannot be controlled, all drinkers are deprived of alcohol.
In the U.S., anti-alcohol organizations were formed from the 1830s in the belief that alcohol was fundamental to all society’s ills. Women and Protestant churches were the main supporters of these organization, and although many began by campaigning for moderate drinking, they later began to campaign for no drinking at all – Prohibition. Individual states of the U.S. began to enact their own Prohibition policies from the 1850s onwards and the federal governments in Canada and the US banned the sale of alcohol to Native peoples.
When National Prohibition was introduced in the US it was called the ‘Noble Experiment;’ because the aim was to rid American society of all the ills thought to be caused by alcohol – such as poverty, family violence, divorce, gambling, and prostitution. Wineries breweries, and distilleries shut down, although limited production was permitted to make alcohol needed for medical or religious reasons.
But many Americans wanted to drink, and soon they were supplied with alcohol. Some of it (called ‘moonshine’) was produced in small batches and sold locally by individuals and much was made in big volumes by organized crime syndicates. Some alcohol was smuggled into the US from Canada and elsewhere. Thousands of illegal bars (known as ‘speakeasies’) flourished in towns and cities across the U.S. Prohibition was ineffectively policed, and by the time it was repealed, alcohol was flowing almost as freely as before Prohibition.
Many people see Prohibition as a failure and point to it as a lesson – that attempting to prohibit anything for which there is widespread demand – such as marijuana and other drugs – is bound to fail. Check out this article to learn about the lasting effects of prohibition.
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