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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
The Wickersham Commission Report on Alcohol Prohibition - 1930


On the evidence before the Commission, together with my experience as a prosecuting officer, and from personal observation, I have come to the conclusion that effective national enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment in its present form is unattainable; therefore, steps should be taken immediately to revise the Amendment.

The revision should give to Congress the power to legislate upon the entire subject of the liquor traffic.

The traffic has transcended state lines and has become a matter of national concern. Even if it were a possibility of accomplishment in the near futures it would be unwise to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment.

Such repeal would cause the instant return of the open saloon in all states not having statewide prohibition.

The public opinion as voiced in the testimony before us appears to be unanimous against the return of the legalized saloon.

A strong reason, among others, why I favor immediate steps being taken to revise the Amendment is in order to destroy the power of the murderous, criminal organizations flourishing all over the country upon the enormous profits made in bootleg liquor traffic. Those profits are the main source of the corruption funds which cement the alliance between crime and politics and corrupt the law enforcing agencies in every populous city.

Those criminal octopus organizations have now grown so audacious owing to their long immunity from prosecutions for their crimes that they seek to make bargains with law enforcing officers and even with judges of our courts to be allowed for a price to continue their criminal activities unmolested by the law.

Those organizations of murderers and arch criminals can only be destroyed when their bootleg liquor profits are taken from them. So long as the Eighteenth Amendment remains in its present rigid form the nation, the states, the municipalities, the individual citizen, are helpless to get out of reach of their poisonous breaths and slimy tentacles.

If not soon crushed those criminal organizations may become as they are now seeking to become supergovernments and so beyond the reach of the ordinary processes of the law.

It is asked, supposing the Amendment is revised, what legislation is to follow? What plan is there to take the place of a national prohibition act? Of the suggestions put before us the most carefully thought out is that proposed in the memorandum of Mr. Anderson. He has made a thorough study of what seems to be the most satisfactory system of liquor control thus far devised and his plan based on that study and on consideration of our experience in federal control of other important subjects seems to me to afford the best solution.


Washington, D.C.,

January 7, 1931.

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