American history holds an important lesson for Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson.
When we ended national prohibition, the murder rate plummeted and federal prisons began to shrink as bootleggers served out their sentences. Even more important, alcohol drinking did not skyrocket. According to the National Institutes of Health, it took about 40 years for per-capita consumption to reach its pre-prohibition level, then it declined, and now it stands about 10 percent below its pre-prohibition level.
The sheriff is right, though, about “medical marijuana.” It is a joke, just as medicinal alcohol was a joke in the 1920s. (Walgreen’s began the 1920s with 20 drug stores and ended the 1920s with more than 500 drug stores, and their milkshakes didn’t do that.)
The bad things the sheriff said are caused by illegal drugs are caused mostly by the “illegal” part, not the “drug” part. It was the same in the 1920s, when many well-intentioned citizens believed our alcohol problems would be solved by prohibition. While it’s true that alcohol-related diseases declined in the 1920s, prohibition caused so much collateral damage that we decided in 1933 to get the federal government out and let each state decide.
That is what we should do for marijuana today. Let the states decide.
Palm Harbor, Fla.