SP Green Can and Stubby
Is this really the cause of our social problems? Picture sourced from SP Brewery website.

At the moment a debate is going on after a few political leaders called for the prohibition of alcohol in the country. There have been many points for and against the call with each side presenting some valid points. However, I will take side against this issue.

Before going further I will have to point out that although I occasionally consume alcohol, I am not a great fan of the beverage and I have seen a lot problems caused that are alcohol related. However, I believe prohibiting it will only brew other, larger problems. The history books and journals provide solid evidence of this as in the Noble Experiment from 1920 to 1933 in the United States (US).

In 1917, the US Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment which along with the Volstead Act established a prohibition on the sale, manufacture and transport of ‘intoxicating liquors’ excluding those used for religious purposes. It was ratified in 1919 and took effect on January 17, 1920, but did not ban the consumption of alcohol but made it difficult to legally obtain the stuff.

The prohibition created a demand void that was quickly filled by illegal alcohol and criminal opportunists willing to supply it. Mafia groups who usually dealt in prostitution, gambling, extortion and theft quickly used their logistics to organize bootlegging – a very profitable trade. Enforcement agencies were corrupted and cities became battle grounds for opposing syndicates. Wikipedia records that studies revealed a rise in crime rates.

“…during the prohibition years of 1920 and 1921, the number of crimes increased by 24%. Additionally, theft and burglaries increased by 9%, homicide by 12.7%, assaults and battery rose by 13%, drug addiction by 44.6% and police department costs rose by 11.4%.”

The prohibition soon became unpopular with the public and in 1933; President Theodore Roosevelt signed an amendment repealing the Eighteenth Amendment. However, the damage was already done among which was the unintended loss of jobs as a result of the ban.

If something is to be learned from this period in history, it is that putting a blanket ban on alcohol is bound to great more problems. The ban will, without a doubt, drive the consumption of illegal brews like ‘steam’, ‘punchie’, ‘yawa’, ‘bucket’, etc. Opportunists will also see an opening for a very profitable market and black market prices will surely soar which will probably lead to criminals becoming more brazen in order to find the money to fund their habits.

I must also point out that we already have laws that deal with alcohol, public behavior and society in general. However, these laws are not being implemented which is probably the actual problem. If the responsible authorities properly implement current laws, I doubt there will be a perceived need to ban alcohol.