Drug Policy Question of the Week – 10-29-11

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 10-29-11.

Question of the Week: How similar is Ken Burns’ ‘Prohibition’ to the Drug War?

Many aficionados have probably seen “PROHIBITION,” the

“three-part, five-and-a-half-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed.”

Viewers of this film can’t help but see strong similarities between this era and the 21st Century drug war.

Substituting the word “drug” for “alcohol,” PBS states that prohibition was,

“intended to improve, even to ennoble, the lives of all Americans, to protect individuals, families, and society at large from the devastating effects of DRUG abuse.”

In bold letters, PBS declares,

“Prohibition turned law-abiding citizens into criminals, made a mockery of the justice system, caused illicit DRUGS to seem glamorous and fun…”

The similarities between the Prohibition 1 and Prohibition 2 are substantiated by more than words. Consider these statistics. Despite the fact that 25 million people were made criminals by arrests for illegal drugs during the last 15 years, 120 million Americans – roughly half of everyone over age 12 – made a mockery of drug laws by reportedly using an illegal drug in 2010.

As PBS concludes,

“The film [Prohibition] raises vital questions that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago – about means and ends, individual rights and responsibilities, the proper role of government and finally, who is — and who is not — a real American.”

These facts and others like them can be found in the Alcohol, Crime and Drug Usage Chapters of Drug War Facts at Please visit the PBS website to learn more about the Prohibition series.