How the effects of Prohibition are still being felt today

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Alcohol bottles. Credit: Pixabay. 

One hundred years ago, Prohibition officially went into effect. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transportation of “intoxicating liquors” across the United States. Sure, there’s a romantic nostalgia to the Prohibition era: speakeasies,  jazz music, flappers, the book “The Great Gatsby,” the movie “Some Like it Hot.” 

Entertainment aside, there were also wide-ranging consequences that still resonate a century later, like how it changed our criminal justice system and the makeup of the Democratic party, and how it gave the Ku Klux Klan power.

There are plenty of lessons from the 1920s that we can apply to the 2020s -- especially when it comes to illegal drugs. 

Lisa McGirr is the author of “The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State.” She tells Press Play, “When I wrote this book, I would have never called it ‘The War on Alcohol’ if I had not myself seen … the way in which these campaigns were symbiotic. Once you outlawed alcohol of course, it was quite logical to then outlaw other substances that were deemed even more dangerous and that were even more associated with marginal groups.”