I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Prohibition Then And Now


After watching Ken Burns’ PBS series “Prohibition”  this week (three parts, each two hours – you can watch online at the link), it is no small wonder to me how anyone could see the similarities between the 1920’s and now. I would venture that every era, every generation has some social swell of some specific issue or struggle to address and/or overcome. Why, right now, we’ve got a tome’s worth! I am thinking about our social climate. Our financial struggles. The environment. Our prison industrial complex. So many things all going down those proverbial tubes. We’re all scratching our heads, clenching our fists, muffling our sobs and hoping beyond all reasonable hope that something will give, something will improve…it has to!

Prohibition began as a moral movement. Basically, how I took it, was a religious/conservative group gathered and organized on the platform that alcohol consumption led to corruption, prostitution, spousal abuse and other criminal activities. They believed the only solution was to prohibit, enforce and criminalize alcohol in all of its many forms. Does this sound familiar? No? Okay, consider for a moment the bootlegging that took the place of saloons and brewers. Many people died as a direct result of the illicit ways people got and distributed the booze. Think of the doctors prescribing whiskey as medicine, if you knew the right doctor that is, medicinal use being legal even after the nationwide ban on alcohol. Yet the consumption of alcohol itself wasn’t technically illegal. In fact you could make your own wines at home as many families did back then.

Many saw prohibition as a direct attack on immigrants who held fast to their cultures and rituals and often saw nothing at all wrong with alcohol. Suddenly self-appointed rabbis of any background were enjoying their own private supply as this, due to its religious significance, was also still legal. Soon petty thieves found themselves knee-deep in opportunity and flush with loads of cash for any and all liquor they could get their hands on. With this money came power they hadn’t the conscience nor education to put to good use (my opinion mind you). And basically, all hell broke loose! Speakeasies were raided, people were killed in clumsy displays of not in my backyard and many were jailed for periods far outweighing their crimes.

Sound familiar yet? Okay, let me put it this way, there are a lot of problems we currently have in this country. Many of these same problems were happening back in the twenties, too. The solution for the lack of jobs, floundering economy, a country overcome by unemployment and despair: end prohibition! How did they do it after such a long and successful battle by those who sought to turn this country into some sort of moral compass for the world? They found the right woman for the job! She had money, connections, charisma, power and above all else, she was fearless!

Right now we could fix a lot of our problems both environmental and economic. We need sustainable products to replace things like cotton, paper, oils, etc…we need to create jobs and fast…we need new revenue to get our deficit down and our economy flowing again! The solution: end prohibition…of cannabis!!! Think about it, it got its bad name and reputation because of a certain media mogul of those same roaring twenties: William Randolph Hearst! Hemp threatened his empire and so he sought to destroy it and whoa did he?! This may be my lay person’s grasp of it, but he did more than just destroy the industry itself. What he did (or eventually happened) was outright demonize not just hemp but cannabis itself in all of its various forms and uses.

There in lies the problem. Our prohibition of cannabis has turned petty crooks into power hungry lunatics. Ordinary citizens into life-sentence-serving prisoners thanks to steep drug laws, ravenous politicians and corrupt law enforcement and judges…not to mention California’s three strikes law. Ugh! That needs to be repealed, man. By ending prohibition on cannabis and repealing all laws to restrict, enforce, criminalize, stigmatize and whatever else they’ve chosen to throw at us, we could actually improve our entire socioeconomic situation!



New taxes! State-run dispensaries! Safer access! Hemp fiber industry jobs! We could actually bring manufacturing back to the USA with hemp. We could corner the market and find new ways to use the stuff. My husband was just telling me about the dire situation every winter in the colder parts of our country where senior citizens are forced to choose between heating oil and other necessities due to the endless rate hikes in oil. Hemp seed oil would be so much cheaper! Hemp is stronger than cotton, too. My grandpa had an old hemp rope that seemed a thousand years old. Ha-ha!

After watching the final installment of “Prohibition” last night I told my husband that what was needed to end the prohibition of cannabis was the right person to represent the movement. Someone with charisma and power. Someone well-connected and hopefully with lots of money! Someone who understood the impact and improvements possible with its repeal. I don’t know who that person could be, but I do believe that this simple thing could truly help us as a nation. If we can just step away from the stigma of it and focus on the hard facts, I think it could make a real difference.

I know that this post has absolutely nothing to do with fat, but it was on my mind in a big way. I spent the first part of this week very depressed. I’m not sure I’m out of it completely yet, certainly the police activity in my area has not been great for my anxiety and paranoia, but part of it is absolutely the economy and how it has ravaged my life and those I love. The arguments against cannabis are preposterous, absurd and full of stereotypes and stigma. I have yet to actually meet a person who is anti-cannabis. Even people who have never used it recreationally (as a drug or whatever) still understand its many varied and great uses and how it could improve our economy. It is something I believe in made all the more clear thanks to Ken Burns and his fabulous documentary series. I admit that I have always felt a deep connection to the prohibition era and it will always be an important era in my heart and mind. But that my lovelies is a post for another day…

Thank you for reading. Do share your thoughts on the topic. I would love to hear your suggestions, too. Take care of YOU!


12 Comments to

“Prohibition Then And Now”

  1. On October 6th, 2011 at 5:23 am vesta44 Says:

    The company that my husband used to work for not only made soy, rice, and almond milk, they also made hemp milk. It’s done using the seeds of hemp plants, so there’s a legal use for it that’s already being done (I haven’t seen it on any of the store shelves in our area, so I have no idea where it’s sold).

  2. On October 6th, 2011 at 9:33 am Not Blue at All Says:

    vesta44: Yes, when I first opened my cafe one of my suppliers insisted I try hemp milk. I didn’t because of my clientele, but I’d seen the package. It was from Pacific Natural Foods Co. A company I still use and enjoy. I am not sure where it’s sold either. I would venture a guess at Whole Foods or Molly Stones, but I don’t shop at either, for two different reasons. At home we recently switched to almond milk, but for my espresso drinks I still prefer Pacific Naturals’ barista series soy. The proteins were developed to froth like whole milk under the steam wand. So far I’ve tasted nothing better in espresso than this soy wonder. Thank you so much for reminding me about hemp milk.

  3. On October 6th, 2011 at 9:18 am Carol Gwenn Says:

    Oh, dear — people my age have been harping on this since the ’60s, when you couldn’t even get cannabis for medicinal purposes. Yes, it’s WAY past time to legalize it, to treat it just like liquor or cigarettes: with a nice, big tax on the product and prohibitions against selling to minors.
    The possibilities for giving the economy a mammoth shot in the arm are near endless. As for me, I always wanted to work on pot ad campaigns,
    which would be another HUGE source of revenue, much like beer and hard liquor advertising.

    We all have learned how miserably prohibition of alcohol failed. It’s time we acknowledged that the illegality of cannabis makes as little sense as banning booze, and that our whole economy could SO benefit from putting it out there as just another product.

  4. On October 6th, 2011 at 9:36 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Carol: Oh my interest is piqued…what sort of ad campaigns would you run with? I see the medicinal side, it certainly helps my stomach-sleeping-anxiety issues…what about the social aspects? Safety concerns? I’m picturing old ads in my head now, ha-ha, but I’ve no doubt that a very modern approach could do the trick, too. Thank you.

  5. On October 6th, 2011 at 9:21 pm E. Ai B. Says:

    Agree 100%. Places where drugs are not illegal, and where ppl can get help for addictions (and can get clean needles), the rates of death, crime, and abuse are lower. And there is no reason why cannabis should be illegal AT ALL, especially with the amazing things it can do for those undergoing chemo/rad. treatments.

  6. On October 7th, 2011 at 10:06 am Not Blue at All Says:

    E. Ai B.: Yes, exactly. It amazes me the BS people still believe about it.

  7. On October 8th, 2011 at 8:24 pm Kath Says:

    Excellent post! Gotta love a Ken Burns documentary huh? He really does make fantastic films.

    I think this post has EVERYTHING to do with fat. We see so many parallels today in the moralisation of food and health. The legislating of the lives of the poor, the immigrant, women, children, people of colour. It seems we forget what a failure moral restrictions really are quite quickly.

  8. On October 10th, 2011 at 10:02 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Kath: You are quite right, I hadn’t even thought about the moral connections with food. Brilliant

  9. On October 9th, 2011 at 2:47 pm thirtiesgirl Says:

    Agreed 100%. Legalize it. …And, being a “thirtiesgirl,” in love with the history of the 1920s and ’30s, the prohibition era is one of my favorite times in history to observe (although I certainly wouldn’t want to have lived through it!). If you’d like a more dramatic view of that era, HBO’s new show Boardwalk Empire is doing a great job of it. Steve Buscemi (who I love) plays Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, a version of the real Enoch Johnson, who was one of the main criminal kingpins who helped make Atlantic City what it was in the ’20s and ’30s. Like many of the bootleggers profiled in Ken Burns’ “Prohibition” series, Johnson/Thompson was both a well respected pillar of the community, as treasurer of Atlantic City, and a major bootlegger in the underworld. The debut episode was directed by Martin Scorsese. Not bad.

  10. On October 10th, 2011 at 10:03 am Not Blue at All Says:

    thirtiesgirl: Yes, I heard Boardwalk Empire was great stuff, but alas, I do not have premium channels. And I am a Scorsese fan, but I will have to wait for it to hit netflix. Thanks.

  11. On October 11th, 2011 at 3:23 pm Shieldmaiden1196 Says:

    In the past week I’ve seen both that documentary and a program about marijuana on the History channel and I’m inclined to confirm what I’ve always suspected– that the illegality of pot is neither beneficial nor logical. I watch people arrested with miniscule amounts get stiff penalties while people on their second or third DUI skate by on the ‘Accelerated Rehabilitaion’ program they have here in PA, as if perhaps another round of classes will prevent a third or fourth DUI. It is, quite frankly, bullshit.

  12. On October 11th, 2011 at 3:24 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    Shieldmaiden1196: Yep, you get it. Now what can we do about the rest of the country? Ha-ha

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