Comparisons of the modern drug war with Prohibition (1920-1933) can be a drug warrior’s worst nightmare because, when they are effectively and accurately applied, they become very convincing arguments that render any and all possible defenses of modern drug prohibition baseless and vulnerable.
Never mind whether or not Prohibition reduced alcohol use, there is no way to tell anyway because, just like it is with the modern "drug war," nobody knew who was selling what to whom, or for how much. The Prohibition era statistic that matters most is the murder rate, which began to climb steadily with the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1920, and did not begin to fall again until several years after the ratification of the 21st Amendment in 1933.
Ask a drug warrior to describe the difference between Al Capone and Pablo Escobar and see how he or she changes the subject, dismisses the question as irrelevant, or tries to dance around the obvious similarities with arbitrary rhetoric about "nowadays."
Try to avoid using the words "legalize" and "decriminalize" as not only have these terms become propagandized, they never really made any logical sense at all because the solution is not to "legalize" illegal drugs, but rather to regulate unregulated drugs.
Advocates of drug policy reform — whom prohibitionists sometimes refer to as "drug legalizers" — understand the true intent behind those words, but the larger society has been well-trained to equate them with chaos and anarchy.
A large, but shrinking, majority still believes that drug prohibition acts as a deterrent to the black market. In order to dispel this drug war myth that is so deeply ingrained into the public sentiment, reformers will need to clearly demonstrate how drug prohibition created and continues to enable the black market.
Simply demonizing the black market is not enough; prohibitionists already do that when they defend the drug war as "the solution" to it when the fact of the matter is that the black market in unregulated drugs became a low-risk, high profit business because of — not in spite of — the "war on drugs."
Drug prohibition prevents the regulation of the drug business, but not the manufacture, sale and use of drugs. No authority or agency really knows who is selling what to whom, where they are selling it, or for how much.
Prohibitionist policies have never produced results that justify their cost to taxpayers, but they did create and continue to support a wealthy class of tax-exempt black market profiteers.
- The black market drug business thrives without taxes, regulations or restrictions.
- The black market considers interdiction mere "spillage," which can be easily minimized by producing and moving more product. (And so what if quality and purity might suffer in the process? It is not as if any recalls would be imposed.)
- The black market does not have to comply with any labeling or packaging requirements. Unregulated drugs usually come packaged in plain plastic bags, but millions of people buy them anyway.
- The black market is not subject to zoning restrictions or licensing or regulatory inspections.
- Black market businesses do not collect sales taxes or pay income or property taxes.
- Black market drug dealers sell drugs to anyone, regardless of age, making it easier for kids to buy drugs.
The black market drug business has no consumer advocacy agencies or fair business practice and pricing associations. Black market drug dealers, growers, manufacturers, and consumers who have grievances cannot go to a court of law to settle their differences or turn to law enforcement in the event of theft or fraud, so they settle their disputes with violence, which is the primary reason why we must regulate these currently unregulated drugs.