The American prohibition of the 1920s was the government of the United State’s move towards restricting the production and sale of alcohol. Many states adopted laws that prohibited the sale of alcohol. However, the government’s move was seen and has always been seen as one of the biggest failures because even though it tried to put limitations to the consumption of alcohol, more alcohol was still being produced and consumed during the prohibition era than other periods. One of the most negative effects it had on society was the establishment of organized crime in the United States. The prohibition lasted from 1919 to the year 1933 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt repealed the prohibition law (Behr, 123).
Likewise, the War on drugs is also a prohibition which is undertaken by the government of the United States and helped in these efforts by other participating countries in which the trade of illegal drugs and other hard substances are supposed to be reduced. These drugs and substances include such drugs as heroin, cocaine, marijuana to name but just a few. The government of the United States has the objective of diminishing the demand and also curbing the supply of substances that are psychoactive and which are undesirable, harmful, immoral, and dangerous to the larger society. To this effect, the government has come up with various legislations which are deemed to be discouraging to the trade of hard drugs like imposing hard punishment on those who have been found to be involved in the trade of these drugs (Rebecca, 45).
Likewise, the War on Drugs has also had social and economical effects which are also not very positive. On the social side, there has been the establishment of various drugs cartels and this has also led to various organizations in the United States citing that the War on Drugs was enacted to target minority races in the United States and this includes mainly the Latinos and the Blacks who have been seen as using the drugs and also as the drug peddlers behind the sale of the drugs (Payan, 23).
Effects of American Prohibition and the War on Drugs
The American prohibition had many effects which were political, economic, and social. Politically, the government was deemed as not being able to make legislations that would work and this necessitated the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to repeal the laws. This is because even though the government tried to limit the production and consumption of alcoholic drinks the period proved to be one in which the usage of alcohol elevated to very high rates. Politically the United States was also found to be a country where the officials are highly corrupt and this is because the organized crime leaders who mushroomed in that period were found to be bribing the officials of the government so that their underground breweries could go on without hindrances and without being interrupted by government officials (Kahn, 201).
Economically, the country lost a lot of revenue which can be rooted in the fact that the brewery industry used to pay a lot of taxes to the government, but with the prohibition, these taxes were not paid. Apart from that the country also lost a lot of employments and this meant that all the people who had been formerly employed by various breweries as workers of both skilled and unskilled status lost their jobs (Pegram, 125).
But the most notable effects were the social effects. For once the population engaged in taking alcohol at a more increased rate than they had ever been noted to in the past. This was very disheartening to the government as well to other entities because alcohol had almost been named as one of the worst enemies of the society by then and this was championed by such entities as religious organizations. There was also the establishment of organized crime and the most notable is the Mafia which had almost been eliminated from the scene prior to the prohibition. However, the Mafia would return to take control of the alcohol trade and this was very risky for the society because the organized crime lords would not hesitate to ‘eliminate’ anyone who jeopardized their trading activities. Apart from that, they were also involved in gross corruption and racketeering activities which put the lives of various people in danger (Burns, 123).
To this effect, there had been various movies and media activities that would later be produced as a result of the prohibition and one of the most notable is Al Pacino’s Scarface. This movie portrays the kind of social degradation that emerged during that period and how various drugs lords came to the United States and started their crime empires in the country. The movie also portrays the ruthlessness that these crime lords meted to their adversaries and how they benefited from the illegal sale of alcohol and hard drugs (Jacobs).
Likewise, the War on Drugs has various effects which are also very influential politically, socially, and economically. Politically there have been various debates that have argued against the legality of the policy of War on Drugs and how various entities and the Drug Enforcement Administration approaches this issue. In the country, the usage of hard drugs has been increasing steadily and this has precipitated a lot of criminal activity in the country. In the same respect, the government has been seen as being insincere in its efforts to curb the drug trade because many people still access the drugs and this is an indicator that either the government is corrupt or is not up to the task of combating this evil (Bernd).
Economically, the war on drugs has ensured that huge resources are used by the various enforcements which are deemed to be fighting the development of the drug markets. Apart from that, there have been reports that the Central Intelligence Agency has been involved in the drug trade and this has been an indicator of how low the government will bow when they are singing one song and some of their agencies are caught doing the opposite. Some people and organizations which are opposed to the war on drugs have cited that this policy is playing a very major role in ensuring that trade between the states is prohibited and this, in turn, is denying some states the most needed revenue (Larry, 15).
The social effects include the fact that the minority races in the country have been greatly victimized and this has seen to it that many of the minority races in the country have been very hostile to society. A good example is the Blacks and Latinos who have been very violent and they have cultivated a culture whereby their number one enemy is the police force and other related law enforcement forces. There has also been the cropping up of various drugs cartels which are mainly based in Central and South America and they have brought about a culture of violence and crime in the country as well as the influx of hard drugs.
According to Billy Corben’s Cocaine Cowboys, the documentary illustrates how the drug trade started in Miami, Florida and how initially the drug lords dealt only in marijuana but would later transform the trade commodity to the more lucrative cocaine. In this documentary, the interviewees who are former drug lords explain how they discovered that cocaine was more lucrative and this is to the fact that the War on Drugs had ensured that the flow was very limited and hence it would cost as much. This only helped in ensuring that the market of the drugs was thriving and corrupt officials of the government ensured that the drugs would make some people overnight millionaires (Goldstein, 7).
Behr, Edward. (1996). Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America. New York: Arcade Publishing
Bernd Debusmann (2008). “Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs”. Reuters. Web.
Burns, Eric. (2003). The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Goldstein, Gregg, “Magnolia Lines Up ‘Cocaine’ Rights”, The Hollywood Reporter, 2006.
Jacobs, Stephen. The World is Yours: The Writing of the Original Scarface Creativescreenwriting.com. Web.
Kahn, Gordon, and Al Hirschfeld. (1932, rev. 2003). The Speakeasies of 1932. New York: Glenn Young Books.
Larry Rohter, “To Colombians, Drug War is a Toxic Foe,” New York Times; 2000.
Payan, Tony, The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars Westport, Conn.: Praeger Security International, 2006. p. 23
Pegram, Thomas R. (1998). Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800-1933. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.
Rebecca Bowe, “The drug war on the Amazon,” E: The Environmental Magazine, 2004.