The alcohol prohibition is one of the most appealing policy experiments and a challenging experience in the in the United States. When the Eighteenth Amendment of the United States constitution took place, most observers had a hypothesis of "no more sale, manufacture, and even transportation of liquor in America". These observers did not see the possibility of Americans ignoring the mandated constitution. According to Howell (2009), in this experiment, the experimenters used the null hypothesis which is usually the reverse of the observers believe (Howell, 2009). The new federal law was expected to be policed by the federal law enforcement agencies and the existing state, to ensure that the nation was dry in the next six years after the amendment. The observers did not realize that not every American would feel obliged to stop drinking and comply with the new law. They did not imagine that the new federal law was doomed to fail hence rejecting the null hypothesis.
A few months after the amendment, the constitution prohibition began where Americans felt that it was their obligation to stop drinking. A consumer demand increased with the supply of the forbidden beverages from various sources. It started by physicians' legally prescribing spirits or beer as medicine to their patients. There is nothing the government was to do as long as such consumption was sanctioned by a certified physician. More so, many pharmacists legally obtained licenses to dispense liquor in the pharmacies even before the prohibition was six months old. Concentrates and grape juices were legally shipped and sold, and the purchasers were allowed to ferment them (Lucas, 2007).. During distribution of these products, the distributors always attached a warning label stating that United States Department of agriculture test determined that the juice would turn into wine of twelve percent alcohol content, if left for sixty days. Surprisingly, the research shows that many people took the warning at heart.
Other tricky methods of obtaining liquor were used whereby a near-beer product was introduced. This product is gotten from the genuine beer and then three to five percent alcohol in excess is removed and then diverted to the consumers before getting rid of the entire alcohol. Following the government inspection, the near beer was changed to a needle beer that was equally alcoholic (Miron and National Bureau of Economic Research, 2008). Other instances were production of alcohol for industrial purposes were redirected, added water and other flavors for beverage purposes. The government discouraged this by rendering the industrial alcohol unfit for human consumption and adding denaturants. Such drinks ended up costing some customers eyesight if the bootleggers failed to remove such toxic substances.
Although the Volstead Act barred the sale, manufacture, transportation, importation, and exportation of intoxicating substances, it allowed the possession of such products if they were obtained before prohibition, but was to be used in one's home. It allowed the purchasers and consumers to defend their act of consuming and selling the product. It also allowed the use of intoxicants for medicinal purposes and sacraments. The national prohibition law allowed consumption of drinks that had 0.5 percent alcoholic content and most Americans obeyed this. An indirect indicator of taxation determined the degree of compliance with the law which shown low alcohol consumption (Miron and National Bureau of Economic Research, 2008). According to the researchers, throughout the country less drinking was taking place especially in rural areas, although the city dwellers decided to decline the law.
As the time went on, more drinking cases were reported in urban areas where drinking attracted notice. Bootleggers took the initiative of advertising their availability in the aim of attracting more customers. Additionally, the high classes were imbibing at a very high rate, thus heightening the alcohol availability (Peck, 2009). Several factors were put in place to ensure full awareness of alcohol availability up to an extent of clearly showing breaking of the prohibition law. Individuals who were willing to take risks made much profit by meeting the demand for alcoholic beverages. Selling and transporting the commodity became a commercial activity. Due to high demand of the intoxicants, the competition increased leading to the participants developing techniques that would keep them in business. Hijacking of the competitor's shipment of liquor and gangland killings were reported in order of obtaining an exclusive sales territory and defending a supply. This competition increased violence in the country.
In as much as the federal government enforced the national prohibition law, they also contributed in violation of the law. Months later after the amendments, the assistant secretary in the treasury made it clear that it was impossible to handle liquor smugglers. The following presidential campaign, those who were vying the seat used the prohibition for their campaigns ensuring citizens that they will abolish smuggling of alcohol. Later after the election of President Calvin Coolidge, he declared a war with the purchasers that never succeeded. He found that prohibition enforcement was equally headache just the same way it was to his predecessor.
After realizing that the law allowed liquor to be dispensed to the patients, the congress restricted the access of liquor by the physicians and pharmacists (Weiner and Freedheim, 2003. They however, resisted this restriction arguing that alcohol had therapeutic value and that the government had no right to interfere with the doctor's medicinal practice. Nevertheless, the congress managed to shut off the liquor supply but this did not resolve the problem of forcing those who are willing to break the law to abstain from drinking. This became a difficult war for the congress where they tried all means of abolishing liquor by increasing enforcement appropriations that never accomplished the goal.
The Supreme Court took the initiative to enforce the national prohibition in order to sharpen it regulation and control. All these efforts resulted to nothing because they did not reach the goal nor eliminate drinking. No matter how much effort the government put in place by introducing new enforcement laws, none would work because the purchaser of liquor who was the presumed victim of prohibition violation never complained about this illegal act, but felt like interference from his right. This resulted to a heavy burden to the policing agencies (Peck, 2009).
The law breaking images made many people believe that violation was taking place with unacceptable frequency. The government's act of changing the law clearly illustrated that it was unable to cope with the lawbreakers by using the traditional enforcement law and so they were coming with new ideas to reach their goal. Regardless of the government's efforts, majority of the Americans joined hands to end the dry law and of cause when a majority of the citizens are breaking the law, then it must be that the law itself is wrong.
In conclusion, the most interesting experiment in the United States was alcohol prohibition. The observers were sure that there is no more sale, manufacture, and transportation of liquor in America. It never came to their mind that Americans may fail to comply with the new law and decide to break. The government fought so much in maintaining the law but it was all in vain. Americans especially in the urban areas smuggled liquor into the country which later spread all over the country. The government made all efforts to abolish liquor consumption but Americans fought so hard to end the dry law. This shows that the observers' hypothesis was rejected.