Out of Control Policy Blog

Good cheer and libation on this Repeal Day!

Seventy-five years ago today, Utah ratified the 21st Amendment, the deciding vote needed to end alcohol prohibition.

From Radley Balko's current article on the topic:

There's no question that drug prohibition has been every bit the failure alcohol prohibition was. Nearly 40 years after the CSA passed, we have 400,000 people in prison for nonviolent drug crimes; a domestic police force that often looks and acts like an occupying military force; nearly a trillion dollars spent on enforcement, both here and through aggressive interdiction efforts overseas; and urban areas that can resemble war zones. Yet illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana are as cheap and abundant as they were in 1970. The street price of both drugs has actually dropped–dramatically–since the government began keeping track in the early 1980s.

The main difference between the two prohibitions is that one was enacted lawfully, and once it became clear that it had failed, we repealed it (and government revenues soared with new alcohol taxes). As the drug war has failed, the government merely claims more powers to fight it more aggressively.

And from the Marijuana Policy Project:

Finally, while you're out celebrating Repeal Day, beware of the inch-by-inch prohibition promoted by sanctimonious grinches who see budget problems at the state level as a perfect opportunity to make alcohol and tobacco consumers pay for an even larger share of government services than they already do ($455 million in alcohol and tobacco taxes alone in California's current budget).

Skaidra Smith-Heisters is Policy Analyst


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