Why was a constitutional ammended needed to ban booze but not drugs?

Why was a constitutional ammended needed to ban booze but not drugs?

Because “drugs” aren’t illegal: there’s no single substance, like alcohol, called drugs (I just took an aspirin, myself).

Specific drugs are illegal.

hmmm… good question. I’d really like to see if anyone knows the history and/or legal reasons behind this.

If I were to WAG, I’m thinking that a constitutional ammmendment WASN’T NEEDED to outlaw alcohol, but there was some political reason to do so.

Also, on a side note, wasn’t that ammendment the first and/or only ammendment that could be classified as revoking a freedom instead of guaranteeing one?

I thought booze was a drug…

Not really. The amendment outlawing slavery revoked a person’s freedom to own slaves.

Zev Steinhardt

I feel too lazy to look right now, but what amendment took away the freedom to own slaves?

That question’s just to make a point – it’s all a matter of perspective.

Wow! I must have beaten Balthisar to that by only a few seconds!!

Zev Steinhardt

oh. my. god.

The freedom to own slaves?

I’m going to assume that the TWO above posts are weak attempts at sick humor, and not examples of the dregs of humanity that find their way to SDMB.

No. I’m not sick humor and I’m not a dreg of humanity. But there was, in portions of the United States, a legal right to own slaves. That right was taken away by a constitutional ammendment. What’s so hard to understand about that?

Zev Steinhardt

If you have something to say about me personally, please take it to the Pit. This is not the forum for it.

Zev Steinhardt

Hey, if you truly read my post, then you know I said it just to make a point!

Zev, dang you!! :slight_smile:

At the time the 18th Amendment was adopted, not every state wanted to ban alcoholic beverages. The proponents of prohibition felt that an amendment to the Constitution would be the best way to ensure this.

Also, if you check the 21st Amendment, it is still legal for a state to ban the sale of alcohol within its borders. The 18th Amendment gave Congress the right to implement to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages in the ENTIRE United States.

Most laws against the sale of drugs are state laws. There are Federal laws as well of course.

The answer is that a constitutional amendment was not required, and in fact, it was totally inapropriate. But there was a huge prohibition movement, especially among women who had recently gained the right to vote, and it was an amendement-happy time.

The right to own slaves was revoked by Amendment XIII:

Here ya go…

So a Constitutional amendment wasn’t needed to ban alcohol. They just wanted one.

. . . speechless, horrified several minutes before I can respond . . .

In the first place,

[ul]Amendment XIV

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.[/ul]
Where is the language by where a right is taken away?

In the second place, do laws against murder take away a “right”? No, because murder is not a “right.”


How is slave ownership a “right”?


One theory:

"In his study of alcohol prohibition, Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement,3 Joseph Gusfield examines the components of
criminal law and separates them into “instrumental” and “symbolic” aspects. Applied to antidrug laws, the “instrumental” aspect is what the law states as its
intention-i.e., the prevention of the use and availability of certain drugs. The “symbolic” aspect may have an importance as great as or greater than that of the
instrumental*: In the case of antidrug laws, part of the symbolic function has been to define users of particular drugs as abnormal and to designate their behavior as
criminal. When this labelling process was attempted with alcohol prohibition as well, it failed because the number of alcohol users in the country was so large and
diverse that no one group could be singled out and designated as “abnormal” exclusively because of drinking alcohol.

*These two functions of the law were best exemplified by the report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, which called for the retention of
laws against simple marijuana possession but not enforcement of those laws. The law by itself would discourage use, it was argued, and not enforcing it would avoid
stigmatizing those who did use the drug.

However, the use of certain drugs, such as opium, heroin, and-until the 1970s-marijuana was most often primarily confined to subgroups and minorities, whose
separation and isolation were more easily accomplished. This fact partly explains why only congressional approval was needed to ban narcotics and marijuana, while
alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment, and why when antidrug laws have appeared to be unsuccessful their total repeal has never been seriously
considered, although repeal was possible with alcohol prohibition."

From druglibrary.org

Sorry; c/p’ed 14th instead of 13th, but it’s oddly appropriate to the discussion anyway, and reads as if it would have outlawed slavery if the 13th hadn’t explicitly come first.

However, the 14th was adopted because the 13th didn’t go far enough and the Southern states weren’t granting any civil rights to newly freed slaves.
There were so called “black codes” passed by Southern governments that effectively kept the black population in a form of slavery. The 14th Amendment was a way to end those.

How about this logic…

People have the right to property from the 5th Amendment (“nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property”). The 13th Amendment undeniably altered the definition of property, in that it could no longer include persons, so a portion of the rights given in the 5th Amendment was taken away. Which was the original contention.


First of all, lissner, you quoted the wrong ammendment. The correct one is the 13th. The text of it is here:

Now then, in some states, there were laws on the books that permitted people to own slaves. Owning property is a right. See Ammendment 5 (bolding mine)

As such, if owning slaves was legal in your state, it was a right protected by the 5th ammendment. That right was taken away by the 13th.


No, because murder, unlike owning property, was never a right protected by the Constitution to begin with.

You may not like. I certainly don’t. It’s one of the darker periods of our history. But, like it or not, people in certain states had the legal right to own slaves. You can stop sputtering now.

Zev Steinhardt