Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group committed to ending the failed War on Drugs, believes there’s an important lesson in a new documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns. The film, Prohibition, details the disastrous experiment of outlawing alcohol in America – a decision that turned otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals and fostered an atmosphere of violence and corruption.
Countless activists have pointed out the parallels between alcohol prohibition and the prohibition of marijuana and other drugs. And LEAP hopes Burns’s film, which rehashes the failures of the Eighteenth Amendment, will help change the perspective of some drug prohibitionists.
“Does anyone think making the dangerous drug alcohol illegal actually decreased the harm associated with its use, abuse and distribution?” LEAP executive director, Neill Franklin, asked. “Just as then, today's prohibition on drugs doesn't accomplish much to reduce harmful use and only serves to create gruesome violence in the market where none would exist under noncriminal regulation. Legalizing these drugs will make our streets safer by reducing the crime and violence associated with their trade, just as when we re-legalized alcohol.”
While Franklin acknowledges many similarities between the two prohibitions, he points out that there is a major difference. Alcohol’s ban ended after just 13 years, as the nation came to grips with the failure of attempting to impose morality through legislation. Drug prohibition, on the other hand, has endured. Marijuana has been banned for nearly 75 years and the War on Drugs was first declared 40 years ago.
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