What Prohibition can teach us about the way we think about drugs today.

I don't think it's hyperbole to suggest that beer is one of mankind's greatest inventions of all time ever in history.

(Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm)


It's hearty (mostly), it's cold (usually), and it just makes you feel really super great (please drink responsibly).

For years now, I've been telling anyone who will listen that beer is so delicious and magical that it deserves its own holiday.

So imagine my surprise when I learned that it actually has one.

April 7 is National Beer Day.

It commemorates the day in 1933 when, after over a decade of Prohibition, everyone was finally able to start drinking again.

(Woo hoo!)

National Beer Day is an unofficial holiday. You won't find it on any government calendar. But people all across America are celebrating.

(In basically the way you'd expect.)

(Seriously, please drink responsibly.)

But contrary to popular belief, National Beer Day isn't just some fake-ish holiday invented for bars to sell a little more booze and blown way out of proportion by the Internet.

(I mean, it is that. But it's not just that).

So buckle up, America. I'm about to lay the True Meaning (tm) of National Beer Day on you.

(Yes, Virginia, there is a coconut cream stout on draft).

Prohibition started in 1920 mostly because alcohol abuse was a serious problem — a nightmare for families and communities all across the country.

People thought banning booze was just the solution America needed.

But banning booze wasn't a great idea. Instead, it was an even bigger nightmare.

Just ask your great-grandparents.

(Your great-grandparents)

Crime skyrocketed. Violent gangs ruled the streets. And corrupt city, state, and federal officials made law and order a joke.

It only took us 13 years to realize this mistake.

When America finally came to its senses in 1933 and was like, "You know what? People are going to drink regardless. So maybe turning the alcohol industry into a massive, violent criminal enterprise isn't such a great idea after all," people breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The point being?

People are going to do what they do. Criminalizing it just drives it underground, wrecks communities, and makes it more dangerous.

Here's where we are now: As of 2013, there were roughly 1.5 million Americans in state and federal prison. About a fifth of them — over 300,000 people — are there for drug offenses.

Many of them for just using drugs, not even selling, growing, or making them.

Even during Prohibition, there was no penalty for drinking booze — only for manufacturing or selling it. But today, you can be thrown in prison for using drugs in the privacy of your own home. On felony charges. Which follow you for the rest of your life.

On March 31, 2015, President Obama commuted the sentences of 22 people, almost all of whom were drug offenders serving decades-long prison terms. Some were even serving life sentences.


This is a step in the right direction. But it's not nearly enough.

Now, before you start getting all like, "Who is this moral degenerate who wants us all to start getting high on demand with reckless abandon and no consequences," I'm not suggesting legalizing drugs. I'm not even suggesting that the most hardened drug dealers and manufacturers shouldn't serve time in prison. Drugs destroy people's lives, and it's not unreasonable to suggest that contributing to that should come with some kind of cost.

What I am suggesting: Let the punishment fit the crime.

It's time to lower penalties for nonviolent drug offenders — and drastically lower them (or eliminate them) for nonviolent drug users.

If we can at least be as sensible about drugs in 2015 as America was about alcohol drinkers after Prohibition, we'd all be much better off.

So on National Beer Day, the most solemn of all holidays, let's all raise a glass to legally indulging in your vices.


In moderation, of course.

True

Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

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Need a mood boost to help you sail through the weekend? Here are 10 moments that brought joy to our hearts and a smile to our faces this week. Enjoy!

1. How much does this sweet little boy adore his baby sister? So darn much.

Oh, to be loved with this much enthusiasm! The sheer adoration on his face. What a lucky little sister.

2. Teens raise thousands for their senior trip, then donate it to their community instead.

When it came time for Islesboro Central School's Class of 2021 to pick the destination for their senior class trip, the students began eyeing a trip to Greece or maybe even South Korea. But in the end, they decided to donate $5,000 they'd raised for the trip to help out their community members struggling in the wake of the pandemic instead.

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