Prohibition: The Failed War on Cannabis

Alcohol Prohibition was repealed after just thirteen years because of the public’s reaction to rapidly unfolding unintended consequences—organized crime, increased use of hard alcohol, government waste, and lost tax revenues. So what have we gotten from our 78-year experiment with marijuana prohibition? Organized crime, increased use of stronger marijuana, government waste, and lost tax revenues. However, cannabis prohibition has endured for much longer than Alcohol Prohibition, and many Americans—including physicians—are desensitized to the societal ills fostered by our war on marijuana.

Many Americans—including physicians—are desensitized to the societal ills fostered by our war on marijuana.

And yet, Alcohol Prohibition was a success compared to our war on cannabis. Studies show that alcohol use decreased during Prohibition, but marijuana use has increased drastically since its prohibition started. In fact, most physicians in the 1930s didn’t even realize that the medicine known as “Cannabis” was synonymous with the prohibitionists’ obscure and exotic Mexican “marijuana”—a confusion that may have been both deliberate and ethnically biased. After 78 years, marijuana prohibition has failed to advance the well being of the nation, and in several ways it has been counterproductive:

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