US Gov. Killed 10,000 During Prohibition by Poisoning Alcohol to Discourage Use

During prohibition, the US Government added poison to industrial alcohol to discourage consumption. People continued to drink it, so the government added more and they killed 10,000 people.

ProhibitionKegs (Copy)By JG Vibes
dev-test.intellihub.com
April 11, 2013

Yesterday i republished an updated version of one of my more popular articles on the subject of the drug war, which laid out the external consequences that come from prohibition, hurting users and non users alike.

One of the many points i made about prohibition, is that it diminishes seller accountability and drug safety.

One aspect that i hadn’t even thought about, but should have considered, is that the government would poison the drugs to make them look worse for public relations purposes.  This actually happened during prohibition, the government poisoned alcohol and killed thousands of people.

According to Wikipedia:

Organized crime received a major boost from Prohibition. Mafia groups limited their activities to prostitution, gambling, and theft until 1920, when organized bootlegging emerged in response to the effect of Prohibition. A profitable, often violent, black market for alcohol flourished. Powerful criminal gangs corrupted law enforcement agencies, leading to racketeering. In essence, prohibition provided a financial basis for organized crime to flourish.

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Rather than reducing crime, Prohibition had transformed the cities into battlegrounds between opposing bootlegging gangs. In a study of over 30 major U.S cities during the prohibition years of 1920 and 1921, the number of crimes increased by 24%. Additionally, theft and burglaries increased by 9%, homicide by 12.7%, assaults and battery rose by 13%, drug addiction by 44.6% and police department costs rose by 11.4%. This was largely the result of “black-market violence” as well as the diverting of law enforcement resources elsewhere. Despite the hope of the prohibitionist movement that the outlawing of alcohol would reduce crime, the reality was that the Volstead Act led to higher crime rates than were experienced prior to prohibition and the establishment of a black market dominated by criminal organizations.

Furthermore, stronger liquor surged in popularity because its potency made it more profitable to smuggle. To prevent bootleggers from using industrial ethyl alcohol to produce illegal beverages, the government ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols. In response, bootleggers hired chemists who successfully renatured the alcohol to make it drinkable. As a response, the Treasury Department required manufacturers to add more deadly poisons, including the particularly deadly methyl alcohol.

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New York City medical examiners prominently opposed these policies because of the danger to human life. As many as 10,000 people died from drinking denatured alcohol before Prohibition ended.

In the black market one of the major drawbacks is that there is no accountability among the people selling the drug. Since anyone can get kidnapped and thrown in a cage for even dealing with the stuff, it really doesn’t make sense for people to be plastering their names and logos all over the drugs. In this age of corporate mercantilism logos and branding may seem like a really tacky idea, but when looking at the black market we can see the value in such things. Someone who is selling a product with their name on it, is going to go through far greater lengths to ensure the quality of their product, as opposed to someone who would remain anonymous.

This anonymity creates an incentive for people to be dishonest with what they sell. This could lead to rip offs, or downright contamination of the drug with unwanted harmful substances. This is why there was bathtub gin that would make you go blind if your drank it during alcohol prohibition. This is also the reason why some of the harder street drugs today are cut with toxic chemicals that increase the chance of overdose ten fold. The fact that the drugs need to be smuggled also creates the incentive to make drugs more potent, and thus in some circumstances more dangerous. The increased potency and decreased availability inevitably leads to a massive increase in cost. The increased cost is a whole other issue with its own unique side effects in regards to drug safety. When the price of the real drugs go up, people just start huffing paint thinner, smoking bath salts and cooking up crystal meth in their basements, which is then even many times more dangerous than the unbranded drugs on the black market.

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J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter-culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, a staff writer, reporter for dev-test.intellihub.com and Executive Producer of the Bob Tuskin Radio Show. You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website www.aotmr.com