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This day in history January 16, 1920: Prohibition goes into effect

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On January 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes”, which was introduced and passed by Congress in December of 1917 which was ratified by 36 of the 48 states in the Union. Exactly a year later: January 16, 1920, the 18th Amendment took effect and created far greater troubles for law enforcement than legal liquor ever did.

Prohibition greatly assisted organized crime in major American cities, one of the most infamous: Chicago Mob Boss, Al Capone held a tight grip on the city of Chicago. Capone and others like him made millions of dollars bootlegging, and selling alcohol.

In December 1933, the 21st Amendment which repealed the 18th Amendment was passed and ratified. The 18th Amendment remains the only Amendment to the US Constitution to be repealed. The moral of the story: Don’t mess with the money. The cost of enforcing Prohibition and the loss of tax revenue from alcohol affected the government greatly.

Peter McWilliams, the author of 'Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do' states that Prohibition created organized crime.

“Prohibition made the gangster not just well paid, but well liked,” McWilliams said. It took significant organization to bootleg the quantities of alcohol people desired. The result was organized crime, which didn’t differentiate between petty crimes like distilling liquor and major crimes like murder and theft.

The United States Federal Government spent over 15 billion dollars in 2010 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $500 per second. That $15 billion has bought us nothing more than defeat. Law enforcement is tied up with enforcing a "war" which was lost decades ago.

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