With recreational marijuana sales in full swing in Colorado and about to take off in Washington state, Tapped Life wonders how much influence the growing society of craft beer has contributed to this movement toward pot legalization. Has the acceptance of—and resounding success of—craft beer been the impetus for it? Good question.
First, let’s do a little compare/contrast between Prohibition and the Marijuana Tax Act. Prohibition lasted for 13 years (1920-33). That ban on alcohol was rough. The ban on Marijuana has been in place since 1937 and has not been repealed. Both Prohibition and the Marijuana Tax Act were federal laws put into place after states had individually acted to ban alcohol and marijuana production, sales, possession and consumption on their own.
Throughout prohibition, there were always industrious folk who would find ways to produce, sell, possess and consume alcohol. A lot of money and energy was spent enforcing the law, in vain. Speak easies, bootleggers and organized crime prospered during this time of government-imposed abstinence. The harder the government tried to enforce the law, the more creative those benefiting from the black market became.
Marijuana is no different. Since 1937, people have continued to indulge in this recreational drug. The War on Drugs began in the 1970’s and has been a costly endeavor to curb illegal drug distribution and use, with mixed results. States have made laws decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana possession, and 20 states and Washington, DC now have legalized use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. As Americans proved during Prohibition: if there’s a will, there’s a way.
So, how does this relate to craft beer? It’s about progressive thought and action. In the 60’s and 70’s, a handful of people decided that big beer wasn’t acceptable any more. They demanded something different and they jump-started an industry that had all but disappeared from our national scene. Starting with the homebrewers who took matters into their own hands, then visionaries like Fritz Maytag, Jack McAuliffe, Ken Grossman and Jim Koch who knew what they wanted and weren’t afraid to create a beer scene that was independent and revolutionary.
There is also an entrepreneurial aspect of craft brewing. We have more breweries now than pre-prohibition. They’re making billions of dollars every year and creating a true industry for the US. Not surprisingly, Washington and Colorado are ranked second and third, respectively, for the number of breweries they have. Conceivably craft beer and marijuana are sub-cultures that exist harmoniously together. Maybe those states have populaces that are more broad-minded than others. Or, perhaps it’s a movement whose time has come and people are stepping up for what they believe in. Just like with beer.
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