prohibition

Prohibition is better than no liquor at all.
– Will Rogers, 1879 – 1935

The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibited the “manufacture, sale and transportation of intoxicating liquors.” The amendment, passed by Congress in 1917, was written to become effective one year after its ratification by the states. The amendment outlawed only the manufacture, transport, and sale of liquor; it did not criminalize the possession of ALCOHOL for personal use, nor did it make purchase of liquor from bootleggers a criminal offense, nor did it define what was meant by “intoxicating” liquors.

To implement the amendment, Congress passed the National Prohibition Act, better known as the Volstead Act. The Volstead Act was crafted to allow supplies of alcohol to be produced and transported for scientific and other commercial purposes. It also defined an intoxicating liquor as any beverage containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol. It could have set the permissible level higher and allowed, for example, the production, transportation, and sale of BEER, but it did not.

Prohibition became effective in 1920. A Prohibition Bureau was established within the Treasury Department to carry out the provisions of the law. Under the Volstead Act, Treasury agents could obtain a search warrant only if they could prove that alcohol was being sold, thus precluding searches of individual homes no matter how much liquor might be there. Some wealthy people, given the ample notice that Prohibition was coming, laid in enough alcoholic beverages to last them through most of the following decade. The law also had the effect of allowing manufacture for personal use. Such home production sometimes became part of a cottage industry contributing to the supplies distributed by bootleggers. Even committed Prohibitionists appeared to believe that the public would not tolerate any effort to criminalize the act of drinking itself. The Volstead Act, unlike some state laws, permitted the manufacture of beer as long as the beer contained no more than 0.5 percent alcohol (near beer).

source:  Prohibition of Alcohol

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