Legalization of marijuana has been a controversial and closely followed debate at all levels of government. From the national down to the local arena, battles over what is best for communities ranges back to the 1920s and the days of prohibition. 

The 21st Amendment brought America back into the days where drinking was legalized once again and today marijuana is taking its first steps to be legalized.

During the prohibition, bootlegging, illegal manufacturing and sale of liquor, and speakeasies, nightclubs or stores that illegally sold alcohol, became popular; and with bootlegging came an increase in crime, according to the History Channel Website.

In early May of this year the Associated Press reported Phat Stuff, a store on Main St., was raided because synthetic marijuana may have been sold at that location.

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

According to, “President Woodrow Wilson instituted a temporary ban on alcohol to save grain to produce food,” shortly after the beginning of World War I. Congress submitted the correlating 18th Amendment in 1917 and it took effect in January 1919.

For about 14 years the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors was banned.

This lasted until the ratification of the 21st amendment in 1933 which canceled the 18th Amendment and ended the prohibition.

There have been numerous articles from news sources, like the New York Times and CNN, that connect the prohibition to legalizing marijuana today.

Garrett Peck has written for the New York Times and is an author of many books, including ones on Prohibition.

In his commentary for the New York Times titled, “Marijuana Legalization, Lessons from the Prohibition,” he said America should learn from history.

“One of the lessons from Prohibition is that we need effective regulations. States should regulate and tax the marijuana market,” Peck said.

Keene State College sophomore Tiffany Andrews said while legalizing marijuana is different than the prohibition, there are some similarities.

“Marijuana has never been legal, but at the same time people are still sneaking around doing it,” Andrews said.

According to Andrews, she thinks people smoke marijuana because it’s a cheaper and sometimes a safer alternative to other drugs people interact with.

Andrews explained legalizing marijuana would clear up some issues. “It’s just a lot better for everybody if it was legal,” Andrews said.

Peter Geneseo, a sophomore at KSC, said he thinks people smoke marijuana because of what kind of consequences it might bring.

“It’s more of a challenge because it’s illegal,” Geneseo said.

According to Geneseo, the prohibition and legalization of marijuana have a very little connection. “You had a lot more freelance [with alcohol]. You had people making it, bootlegging it,” Geneseo said. But with marijuana, he continued, “It was something that was never legalized before.”

Senior Mynam Huynh said he thinks people smoke marijuana to fit in, but it can become addictive and lead to people using it as a stress reliever. He said he thinks it makes people lazy and draws away from goals a person might have.

According to the website Look At Your Drinking, a person can become addicted to alcohol. It can lessen a person’s pain tolerance and acts as a sedative or depressant.

On the website, Dale Archer, a clinical psychiatrist, said marijuana has addictive traits and can be abused, but studies have not proven whether or not people can absolutely be addicted to the drug.

1920s celebrity Will Rogers was quoted saying, “Prohibition is better than no liquor at all,” meaning he knew he could always get a drink even though it was illegal.

According to Andrews, though marijuana has never been legal before, people are still sneaking around and smoking it.



Rebecca Marsh can be contacted at

Share and Enjoy !