Lesson 7: Backfire

Prior to the prohibition of alcohol, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine were not considered social problems. There were no prohibitory federal laws regarding their use.

Marijuana was not very popular with Americans in the early 20th century. Opium and morphine were sanely used by a small percentage of Americans.

Alcohol prohibition increased the interest of many in the use of marijuana, which was not yet a schedule 1 narcotic. During this time, the bohemian types learned to appreciate the effects of cannabis.

This is when ridiculous scare tactics about pot began to be used: i.e. the gateway theory, reefer madness, and all use is abuse.

Some of the worst propaganda began with the dead brain cells sound-bites. Dr. Lester Grinspoon, of Harvard Medical School, says, "A large part of the problem we have as drug educators today is that kids dont believe us. ... (brain damage) ... is a flat lie. Marijuana has no clinically significant effect on the electroencephalograph."

Problem drinking increased dramatically during prohibition.

By 1922, drinking alcohol was considered sexy and stylish by a certain segment of society. The speak-easy became a popular gathering place for the flapper generation. More drinkers became obsessive about alcohol than ever before.

Bathtub gin, white lightning, and other home-made concoctions became trendy. This resulted in products that caused blindness or death. Cocktails were developed to make crude alcohol palatable so people could consume more.

The effects of prohibition were disastrous in many ways. The nation had to admit that a terrible mistake had been made. By making alcohol illegal, all control was lost and the problems grew worse.

History Lesson #7: Making something illegal does not make it go away.

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