History Of Drug Regulation Essay, Research Paper
Throughout history, there have been several methods to attempt to control substance abuse. Alcohol is one drug that the government has attempted to regulate throughout history. In some ways it has decreased its use and in others, increased it.
Alcohol use has been dated back to ancient times. At least 6,000 years ago. The oldest reference alcohol was found on stone tablets in Iraq and Iran. The oldest attempt to control alcohol dates back to the Babylonian code of Hammurabi in 1770 BC. It set standards for tavern owners and regulated measurements of drinks. Another early attempt to regulate alcohol use dates back to 2200 BC in China when Emperor Yu placed a tax on wine. This may have regulated consumption for the poorer people, but the rich people kept drinking as often as they pleased.
In the middle ages, many Islamic countries banned the use of alcohol. This was somewhat successful, however Muslims used alternatives such as opium, coffee, tobacco, and hashish. Another drug, Khat, a stimulant, was used as a substitute. It was used to help people stay awake during long prayer sessions. This helped to regulate alcohol use, but many turned to other drugs instead.
During the Renaissance period, drunkenness led to most laws limiting alcohol use. Some of our current laws started to take effect in this time period. Switzerland and England passed laws about how late bars could remain open. In the 15th Century, sale on religious days was banned in Scotland and Germany. These laws were more aimed at regulating than prohibiting. Alcohol was still used to cure ailments, so therefore it could not be totally outlawed.
During the London Gin Epidemic, gin production increased thirty-eight times from 1684 to 1742. In 1742 distillation was banned, and the production dropped from 19 million gallons to only 4 million gallons. Taxes and sales regulations helped control its use. In 1785, Dr. Benjamin Rush began the first temperance movement in the US. In 1826, the American Temperance Society was created. Within 4 years over 1,000 more societies were formed, and alcohol use remained as popular as ever. In 1851, the prohibition law in Maine was passed. Within four years, the consumption level fell and one-third of the states had laws regarding sale and use of alcohol. The 18th amendment was passed in 1920 that prohibited manufacture and sale of any beverages with an alcohol content greater than 0.5% . Several other countries followed with similar laws. Thirteen years later, the 18th amendment was repealed. Americans agreed that there were fewer problems associated with alcohol (public drunkenness, liver problems, etc.) but many new problems arose such as: smugglers, mafia members, corrupt politicians, and crooked police who helped aid in the distribution and sale of illegal alcohol.
Alcohol has been a problem throughout history, not only in America, but around the world. Many laws have been passed to help regulate the sale and consumption, but in reality, there is nothing we can ever do to eliminate the problem altogether. Certain movements such as the 18th amendment significantly reduced consumption, but there were still illegal sales and speakeasies. It is impossible to stop its use totally.