Our modern day war on drugs started during the Nixon administration in 1971, and these laws, nearly fifty years later, unequally applied, has truly in effect, incarcerated and disrupted the lives of millions upon millions of Americans, with absolutely no end or no success in sight. Yet, as bad as this present day war on drugs is, this was not the first big war on drugs that America impressed upon its people. While many people are quite aware that prohibition of alcohol transportation and alcohol importation passed via the 18th Amendment in 1919, which subsequently was later repealed in 1933, most people are quite unaware that thirty three States of the Union, before the passage of the 18th Amendment, were dry States at some time before the 18th Amendment came into national effect.
This meant in the majority of the States prior to the 18th Amendment, the consumption and manufacture of alcohol was banned on either a State wide initiative or through a county initiative. Not too surprisingly, within those States and counties, Statewide or local law enforcement theoretically concentrated their resources on their attempt to eliminate this scourge of mankind, represented by the distilled liquors of all types. Further to the point, similar to today's war on drugs, the resources of law enforcement types within States and counties, concentrated their animus not on the actual major producers and distributors of the alcohol, but rather on the poor and disadvantaged that distilled their own liquors for their own consumption, or to a minor extent, produce their own liquors for small time sell and distribution within their community.
As might be expected, the original war on drugs didn't fare any better than today's war on drugs, for two main reasons. The first reason is that there is a significant amount of people, that have a strong desire to consume alcohol and liquor, of which, the illegality of doing so, just changes the logistics of purchasing that liquor, but doesn't eliminate the desire or the availability of liquors, because liquor is one of those things, that isn't all that difficult to manufacture, because all of the materials needed to do so, are often readily available. In addition, those in charge of enforcing the State or local prohibition laws, are often themselves aiders and abettors of circumventing the law, because as in any illicit business, there is money to be had by simply turning the other way, especially, if arrests and convictions are concentrated against the disenfranchised poor, of which, those in power well know make easy targets to demonstrate the appearance of enforcing laws, while in effect, only enforcing them selectively.
These wars on drugs, whether alcohol, or the present day war against illicit drugs, are deliberately not authorized against pharmaceutical drugs which are unquestionably too often overprescribed and often debilitating and addicting, but far too profitable of a legitimate industry to persecute, but rather the government creates laws that are selectively enforced against the huddled masses, so that the elite and connected can exploit, benefit from, and when necessary, fine and incarcerate those that have no voice. So that, in reality, this is a war to protect the favored class, at the expense of the people, all under the guise for the betterment of mankind, when in actuality drug and alcohol abuse, can best be addressed as seeing such as a sick patient needing legitimate medical aid, rather than being treated as a crime and punishment issue, selectively enforced.