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Ken Burns PBS Documentary “Prohibition” to Air Next Week

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norml remember prohibitionAdvocates Hope Spotlight on Failed Alcohol Prohibition Will Provoke Debate on Drug Prohibition, Black Market Violence and the Criminalization of More Than a Hundred Million Americans

The history of our country’s disastrous period of alcohol prohibition will be broadcast into homes across America this weekend when PBS airs Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s Prohibition, a three part series on America’s failed “noble experiment” of banning alcohol.

Drug policy advocates are thrilled that filmmakers of the stature of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have taken on this topic — and hope that the series reminds Americans about the futility of prohibition and its devastating collateral consequences.

“Alcohol prohibition didn’t stop people from drinking any more than drug prohibition stops people from using drugs,” said Tony Newman, director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance. “But prohibition did lead to Al Capone and shoot-outs in the streets. It is the same today. It is not the marijuana or coca plants that have caused 50,000 deaths in Mexico over the last 5 years — but because they plants are illegal and thus unregulated, people are willing to kill each other over the profit that can be made from them.”

“Making drugs illegal has created a violent criminal market where cartels battle it out to control territory in much the same way gangsters did during alcohol prohibition,” said Neil Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “The one major difference between the two prohibitions is that we came to grips with the failure of our experiment to ban alcohol after just 13 years, while the ‘drug war’ that President Nixon declared 40 years ago is still being prosecuted, more harshly and expensively than ever.”

“My two sons have struggled with addiction. My family has experienced not only the devastation of this life-threatening disease, but also the destructive effects of punitive prohibitionist policies and incarceration,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman, lead organizer of Moms United to End the War on Drugs. “Mothers were instrumental in ending alcohol prohibition in the 30s, not because they wanted to encourage alcohol use, but because they wanted to end the gangland violence and loss of lives caused by organized crime, fueled by prohibition. Moms are needed to join the movement to end the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths that have resulted from prohibition and the failed war on drugs.”

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  • malcolm kyle

    There are those who find a successful and tolerant society so unpleasant that they support government coercion and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens even though at great risk to their own personal safety and financial security.

    They view pleasure as the devil’s snare and swear vengeance on all those who might embrace any of God’s pleasures.

    In a dangerous and futile attempt to stamp out alcohol, tobacco, heroin, marijuana, pornography, prostitution, marital infidelity and masturbation, this former land of the prosperous and free has been pillaged by groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Society, The Anti-Saloon League, The Anti-Cigarette Movement, The Social Purity Movement, The Social Hygiene Movement and our latter day Drug Warriors.

    Laboring under no burden of doubt concerning their own rectitude and right to impose their standards on everybody else by the barrel of a gun, they have ceaselessly proclaimed their Christianity while blatantly overlooking Christ’s main admonitions, namely “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast the first stone.”

    Alcohol prohibition in the US run from 1919 to 1933 – Now google ‘The Great Wall Street Crash’ and see when that happened!

    During alcohol prohibition, all profits went to enrich thugs and criminals. Young men died every day on inner-city streets while battling over turf. A fortune was wasted on enforcement that could have gone on education etc. On top of the budget-busting prosecution and incarceration costs, billions in taxes were lost. Finally the economy collapsed. Sound familiar?