Prohibition was repealed 80 years ago today, bringing into the open what had long been hidden, similar to what is expected to happen with the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado on Jan. 1, reports the Denver Post. Experts see parallels between the repeal of Prohibition and the legalization of marijuana sales in Colorado and Washington, particularly the fact that criminalization never really stopped the use of the product, instead forcing it underground, creating an unregulated black market. Prohibition started in 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banned the production, sale, importation and transportation of alcohol. It didn’t eliminate drinking. Alcohol consumption dropped at the beginning, to about 30 percent of the pre-Prohibition level, but then increased sharply.
The end of the prohibition of recreational marijuana sales — authorized last year by state Amendment 64, which allows the consumption and possession of small amounts of pot by people age 21 and older — is expected to be laid back. “Businesses will open, and it will be a significant event, but it’s not as if there’s going to be some sort of parade down the street,” Colorado Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert said. Curiosity probably will drive many people to at least take a taste of the once-forbidden drug — since consumption doesn’t necessarily require smoking, said Mark Kleiman, a top national analyst of drug policy. Marijuana can be taken in foods, through smokeless vaporizers and in potent tinctures, for example.