An Examination of Prohibition: Then and Now

Marijuana, weed, pot, the devil’s lettuce. Whatever you want to call it, we know what it is. If you don’t, allow me to explain. Marijuana is a psychoactive drug made from the cannabis plant that can be used recreationally as well as medicinally. Marijuana has been used to treat cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy to regain their appetite. Marijuana has also been used to lessen the effects of Parkinson’s disease along with a multitude of others. It is also completely illegal in over 130 countries, including the United States. The United States has federally prohibited the sale, transport, consumption and growth of marijuana, and has put people in jail for decades as consequence of breaking these laws. On January 17, 1920, the federal government outlawed the sale, transport and etc. of alcohol, creating a then widely disputed prohibition quite similar to ours.


The temperance movement of the early 20th century sought to regulate or outright ban alcohol in the US. People called for the ban as a result in a high rise on alcoholism in men, along with abuse and job loss that came with it. The movement saw alcohol as a dangerous substance that would destroy the country if used without moderation or caution.


Similarly, from the effects of the war on drugs in the 1980’s, mary jane is still heavily stigmatised in America. In states where it is still illegal (without the ability to use it as medicine), state institutions as well as schools and businesses have put in strong rules and punishments as consequence for using or even carrying it. People still to this day see marijuana as a highly dangerous substance that should be placed in the same category as heroin or cocaine, despite seeing its potentially harmless effects from it. Some states have totally legalised marijuana; although it is still a federal crime to use or carry it.


It is fairly obvious that though they are criticized and outlawed for similar reasons, alcohol had the most amount of logic behind its prohibition. Alcohol causes liver damage and was heavily abused in the 1900’s and the present day. People become alcoholics and ruin their relationships and get fired from their jobs. The temperance movement sought to create a more responsible America by teaching people to drink with moderation, or to not drink at all. The intent was to keep people safe by stopping consumption of alcohol past its responsible drinking limit.IMG_8267

To contrast with alcohol, marijuana is a relatively safe drug. As stated before, marijuana has many medical uses that help people every day. War veterans smoke marijuana to lessen the effects of their PTSD. Cannabis consumption can control epileptic seizures. It can decrease anxiety, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, help treat glaucoma, and can relieve arthritis pain. You can literally help your joints with a joint. The pros of marijuana heavily outweigh the pros of alcohol.


So can we say that the prohibition of alcohol and the prohibition of marijuana are similar? Of course we can, but can we say that they both were made illegal for the same reasons? Probably not. Truthfully, marijuana does more good than harm, and when it does harm, its most often from being jailed for excess amounts of time by the criminal justice system.

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