Op-Ed: Perhaps Prohibition Problems are Repeating Themselves

You might see a meme floating around from time-to-time about 10,000 Americans dying during alcohol prohibition “killed by the government” via poisoned alcohol. Though Snopes disproved some of these claims, they also confirmed that drinking industrial alcohol was responsible for deaths of many would-be revelers during the dry-ish years of prohibition. 

According to Time, “ On New Year’s Day 1927, 41 people died at New York’s Bellevue Hospital from alcohol-related poisonings. Oftentimes, they were drinking industrial methanol, otherwise known as wood alcohol, which was a legal but extremely dangerous poison. One government report said that of 480,000 gallons of liquor confiscated in New York in 1927, nearly all contained poisons.”

Like alcohol, cannabis has been an integral part of human culture, whether you like either substance matters little: people will drink alcohol and smoke, eat, or otherwise consume cannabis no matter what, and sometimes at all costs. 

Unlike alcohol, cannabis doesn’t cause violent chemical dependency, so you can understand how dangerous it was for the government to restrict access to a substance that people were already fully addicted to. 

Also unlike alcohol, cannabis can provide incredible health benefits which has people pushing back on an eight decade prohibition regardless of how illegal it is. This is why vapes were even created.

Along with e-cigs, a nicotine delivery system, cannabis concentrate vapes were developed to administer the chemicals in question to the body in a discreet and (hopefully) healthier manner. In their quest to access stealth microdoses of cannabis, people were willing to purchase black market vapes due to the prior reputation for general harmlessness that cannabis held before the “vape gate.”

Much like when alcohol was denatured to deter people from drinking it despite black market forces which would seek to put such poison in consumer hands, the government of America and many of its states does not actually care who is harmed by black market cannabis or even by nicotine delivery systems, provided they are able to keep funds coming in via enforcement and fines. 

Cannabis was known as a harmless substance, but its rising popularity has also concentrated the risk and reward of extralegal sales. We have no one to blame for this but the arbiters of continued prohibition. 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Emerald contributor since May 2017

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