America's Upcoming Prohibition Primer: A Call For 'Pot Parlor Parties' Nationwide

Mark your calendar and make plans for ‘pot parlor parties’ with your like-minded family, friends and co-workers on October 2 to view the first in a series of PBS broadcasts from legendary filmmaker Ken Burns on the history (and total folly) of Alcohol Prohibition.
The upcoming broadcast of Prohibition may possibly present the best opportunity ever for America’s mainstream population to come to understand 1) the failure of government prohibitions in free market-oriented societies on otherwise safe and popular commercial products, 2) the dynamic of ‘tolerant’ and otherwise law-abiding peoples trying to be dominated and made into criminals by ‘intolerant’ people (i.e., wets vs. drys), 3) how much worse and profound 74 years of Cannabis Prohibition has become in America (as compared to Alcohol Prohibition’s relatively short dozen years) and 4) the recognition of need to immediately end today’s totally failed and feckless Cannabis Prohibition (replaced with a state-based system of regulation and control in a manner similar to today’s alcohol laws and social controls).

The broadcast of the first episode of Prohibition is scheduled for Sunday, October 2 and NORML and its 170 chapters around the country are encouraging citizens who oppose Cannabis Prohibition to convene viewing parties in their homes to be known as pot parlor parties as means to educate ourselves better about what is often called today America’s Great Failed Experiment and to keep building up a fast growing community of activist-citizens who’re calling for logical alternatives to our antiquated Cannabis Prohibition laws.
Contact your local NORML chapter to help coordinate pot parlor parties in your area.
BTW…maybe it was planned…maybe it is a coincidence…but October 2 also happens to be the official 74th anniversary of the day Cannabis Prohibition laws went into full effect.
What better way to mark such a dark day in American history than to organize for the necessary cannabis law reforms today greatly aided with much needed and objective light from our past?
When watching Burns’s Prohibition, please keep in mind the stark differences between the relative benignness of alcohol’s prohibition as compared to today’s far-reaching and extreme blanket prohibition on cannabis:
*Alcohol Prohibition came about after nearly 100 years of social agitation from citizens who effectively advocated for a constitutional amendment to be passed to ban the commerce of alcohol sales (citizens could make their own alcohol products, but they could not sell it lawfully as the government ceased regulating and taxing the commerce). Of course, a little more than a decade after the anti-alcohol amendment, to lawfully end the Prohibition, congress and the states had to pass another amendment to the Constitution allowing states the ability to again regulate and tax alcohol-related commerce.
Is there a constitutional amendment to ban cannabis?
No. Cannabis Prohibition in America was created by legislative fiat.
*During Alcohol Prohibition, hundreds of thousands of citizens were able to continue to use alcohol for ‘therapeutic’ reasons by obtaining a doctor’s recommendation and a license from the federal government. Of course, during our long suffering Cannabis Prohibition, the federal government continues to spuriously claim cannabis has no medical value and treats patients (even with a physician’s recommendation to use medical cannabis) like common criminals.
*Nearly fifty percent of the working population in America are subject to anti-cannabis drug tests in the workplace.
*Every 35 seconds a cannabis consumer, seller or grower is arrested in America (approx. 850,000 arrests annually).
*Today, there are dozens of ‘sacred cow’ federal and state anti-cannabis bureaucracies (DEA, ONDCP, Customs, NIDA, SAMSHA, DARE, PDFA, NDIC, EPIC; federal, state and local law enforcement entities, etc….)
With nearly one million people having opted into NORML’s network of cannabis law reform via Facebook, Causes, Twitter and our internal listservs, the upcoming Ken Burns documentary is a fortuitous opportunity for today’s cannabis consumers and reformers to organize around.
PBS has created a well done online ‘postcard’ that allows you to remind friends, family, and maybe most importantly, our elected officials to watch and learn.
More to come soon about NORML’s October 2nd Pot Parlor Parties…

50 thoughts

  1. As a means of stemming the budget crisis & raising the debt ceiling, Congress & the White House proposed cuts in Medicare, Social Security, foreign aid, military budgets in Iraq & Afghanistan, public education and other social services.
    Not a soul suggested we take a dime from the Drug War budget.
    Reefer madness!

  2. Looks great!
    Problem… PBS? Fuck man barely anybody watches that channel. Shit is like NPR’s brother and just as boring at times.
    [Editor’s note: What other national broadcast network other than PBS would run a series consisting of three one-hour documentaries on three consecutive nights on any subject matter let alone a history of Alcohol Prohibition?*
    ABC (Disney)? NBC (Comcast/GE)? CBS (Viacom)? CNN (Time Warner)? Fox (News Corp.)?
    *Every summer in the middle of beach season Discovery Channel airs a regular series called ‘Shark Week’, but, what does that really say about network TV?]

  3. Where is the filing of the class action lawsuit for unlawful biological warfare against the citizens of North American and now the world.
    However — still no concrete actions are on the table that say — where you born after 1940 — Did you breast feed — are you a sexually active human — food of birth/forest/sex is reason to believe you have been exposed to the bioweapon known as Lyme disease.
    Now if all parties focus on remedy — initiate class action lawsuits — use the media circle from all the infomercials and court coverages to expose the circumstance which is completely denied by the aggressors in charge — we will be on the path to recovery.
    From my perspective — self greed of futures keeps everyone in the business from performing necessary collective actions for an intelligent resolve.
    Time to use the philanthropic monies of the world and lets get the claim action moving.

  4. I wonder if anyone who watches this show will realize that prohibition didn’t actually disappear with the 21st Amendment.
    I don’t suppose Ken Burns will refer to reefer?

  5. “People will break the law – when it’s a stupid law.” Well! there’s a whole bunch of law breakers out there – and – in there too.

  6. We favoring legalization have to make an ever stronger distinction betweeen pot and hard stuff. We should be strong supporters of the DEA taking down boat loads of coke, we should be supportive of local crack stings, and we should be supportive of tough pot DUI laws. This will disarm the right and aid our cause.

  7. Go Ken!!!
    Isnt it funny as PBS is hailed as one of the great educational channels. They have never caved to cheesy commercials and have always had a great sense of sophistication! The Civil war was watched by lots of people. Lets hope this one gets even more veiws. Hopefully the morons ruining our country will learn something. Things now are a photo copy of the alcohol prohibition with gangs and innocent people getting hurt or arrested by over zealous cops brown nosing there superiors so they can get funds to rape the citizens yr after yr! Man the money we could save, the people wouldnt have all the criminal records hanging over them all there lives etc…. God bless America but I CANNOT say God bless our congress although Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and a few more are in my Thoughts. There are a few good guys on the siide of common sense and decensy! Let Roll america and smoke legal!

  8. The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has no value to me to tell me just to use Federal Death Authority approved drugs that are killing and maiming people. The FDA approved drugs just create side effects so they can come out with another drug to treat the side effect symptoms from the other drug. Lets face it PROHIBITION KILLS AND MAIMS our Constitutional rights and Freedoms. The new GOD in our country is called FERERALISM with a PLANET OF THE APES MENTALITY and BANANA REPUBLIC RULES. Just remember who controls and owns the boob tube programs on what we watch.

  9. well I would have a pot parlor party ..but the second i do i will get a letter in the mail ordering me to take a random drug test.cdl.i am fucked !! If i were a risk to other drivers..and was under the influence of some doctors poison, or an alcoholic i would be fine with the legal system..but i have tried the pills..made me sick and agitated..tried the booze..fought with strangers, wife, weed is my only way to feel normal..i think i fucked up my cannibinoid receptors with alcohol and pills when i was a i look forward to when my youngest is independant..then i will toke and not worry about jail..hell last time i was there weed was easier to get than on the street..cost alot more but it was there, its a damn shame we haved to give up our spot in society just to have the freedom to light up, makes me wish i was dead..shit fuckin hole USA..nobody stands up for their shit, i shoulnt haved to be sick or lose my job just to smoke a plant that is easier to grow than tomatoes, i hope our rulers die long drawn out painful deaths!!

  10. This documentary is definitely worth watching, but the great talent of Ken Burns et al. is completely impotent to drawing the parallels between alcohol prohibition and cannabis prohibition so long as cannabis prohibition is never mentioned. These parties are just preaching to the choir, and the un-cool people won’t be invited to them anyway if people at them are partaking, for the most part.
    If Burn (or someone else) could do the second half and make a series on cannabis prohibition that completes the circle and actually spells out the parallels and the perils, the legalization movement would have a nudge a bit further toward the legalization end on the cannabis continuum of total death penalty prohibition on one end and total regulated legalization at the other.
    Without the part focusing on cannabis specifically, I’m not convinced and not impressed.

  11. When I first saw promos for this I wondered to what extent, if any, would the themes, insights and hindsight reflections about prohibition be applied to cannabis and other prohibited substances. It would not surprise me at all if no connection was made and alcohol prohibition was discussed in pure isolation as being unique and separate from other “accepted” prohibitions.
    Considering NPR’s political sensitivity these days and the need to not offend deep pocketed underwriters, it seems more than likely that there will be no mention of current and ongoing prohibitions.

  12. I loved learning about the civil war, but I can’t think of a more boring grind than watching that dragged out Ken Burns’ Civil War series?
    Now add being stoned with watching Ken Burns, and you better make the Ken Burns’ Pot Party a sleepover.

  13. Maybe this is just stoner talk, but I have to believe that somewhere in some private room, deep within some Federal bureaucracy, people are strategizing for the future, in case public opinion flips in support of regulation.

  14. Marijane has been useful, (prohibition ), an unessessary useless pain for power at the peoples expense.

  15. We are no smarter now then when we had alcohol prohibition. Peope saw the negative effects of prohibition and changed the law. Now we have corporations making the law. At least with alcohol you were allowed to make your own. We can’t do that with cannabis children may get a hold of it. Sarcasm off.

  16. My birthday is Oct 2. : 0 ) My wife are going to start having a party every year. I was zero years old when prohibition was nineteen years old.

  17. 6. TH
    It’s a catch 22 TH. Of course cannabis doesn’t compare to any drug known to man – except itself – and in fact – is not a drug at all – it’s a food. To be termed a drug is incorrect enough. To be placed in Schedule I is a crime. Whoever scheduled cannabis in schedule I is the rat(s).
    Hard drugs have done irreparable damage to our society – and – should be controlled and enforced. But then – government can’t regulate morality – and – has no right to dictate what one can introduce to one’s own body [most especially if recommended by a physician]. Kinda like “I’m damned if I do – and – I’m damned if I don’t.”
    People that don’t have an argument will throw mud at you. Questions that don’t get answered go away. We don’t share the opinion the “People can’t be trusted to form their own opinions.”

  18. CDXX Communion of 08.07.11
    Ezekiel [the Prophet] 34:29,30,31.
    29. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. 30. Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they are my people sayith the Lord God. 31. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, sayith the Lord God.”
    We accepted your plant of renown as our Sacrament. We are no longer consumed with hunger in the land. Neither do Genesists bare the shame of the heathen anymore.

  19. The marijuana user is a valuable commodity in the whole infrastructure that feeds off of them…From the policeman to the lab worker that test the urine samples, all the way to the company that has shares in the “Prison Industrial Complex” as well as the Feds that like to seize assets and property. The truth is …if the fantasy panacea of a “Drug Free Society”
    where ever to exist in reality…this whole” infrastructure” would be in a panic..
    Marijuana Prohibition works!
    They need warm else are they going to feed their families?
    The marijuana user has become “prey” to the predator.

  20. Well if he did a documentary on cannabis probation then u have some thing to get excite about.

  21. @10 Brandon – You’re probably right but that’s just what a lot of us thought back in the 70s but the greedy ignorant leaders of this country continue to maintain their idiotic war… I hope the tide is turning. At this point in time, which is way different than the Govt’s 70s mentality, a lot of our leaders know the truth about marijuana but still choose to make the wrong choice regarding it. In the 70s they were truly ignorant about it…

  22. #6 TH-
    Driving under the influence of cannabis is A NON ISSUE!!! I wish people would stop using this as a stall tactic towards legalization. I took my road test STONED in 1977. I started smoking weed in 1973. NEVER CAUSED AN ACCIENT, NEVER CITED FOR DUI. Driving under the influence of cannabis is a NON ISSUE. A NON ISSUE !! A NON ISSUE!!!!!!!!!

  23. Having a party goes against one of my rules of smoking. The fewer people who know that I smoke the better.

  24. I think if salivia becomes illegal, which more people are doing,
    then it can replace marijuana and marijuana can become legal.

  25. I once worked on health and safety activity books about drug abuse for kids. They were reviewed by health pros for accuracy before publishing. In those books the language used was “alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.” That was because alcohol and tobacco were recognized not only as drugs, but as the main problem drugs.
    In virtually all news stories about the drug war, the language is about “alcohol and drugs”, as if alcohol isn’t a drug but belongs in some other category. I fear that even this series on prohibition will make that same erroneous distinction, and the lessons of prohibition that everyone readily grasps will still be seen as completely different than the war on “drugs”.
    This compartmentalization is so ingrained that the war on some drugs is never, ever officially or in news reports acknowledged to be prohibition.

  26. @ #28
    I agree that stoned driving is not a problem but most people just group marijuana with other drugs and alcohol and if it is legalized its just something your going to have to put up with. If you live in an area with public transportation use it as much as possible. I know a guy that is prescribed 500 Mg of Seroquel a day and drives when taking them among other medications and that is fine but driving while stoned is a no-no. I think these silly politicians and prohibitionists need to try weed then have some of these prescriptions forced down them and then we will see what their opinion is.

  27. @12
    I completely agree. This looks like it will be an interesting exposition on alcohol prohibition, but without any reference to the ongoing prohibition of cannabis, it will be much less effective to ours and NORML’s cause. In order for this to be an effective tool for drug law reform, it needs to AT LEAST MENTION today’s prohibition and the perils that it brings along with it.

  28. @12 and 34 – I too believe that a documentary on alcohol prohibition that fails to bring up and compare marijuana prohibition probably isn’t going to help our cause much. I may be pessimistic, but I don’t think the average non-cannabis using American is going to get the point which is so very obvious to us about the pitfalls of cannabis prohibition… I also have to agree with another comment about having a party in that the only people I would invite to such a party are those I trust regarding the subject at hand. With the laws being what they are, I’m not sure how much to trust people I’ve know for years since it’s just not discussed. Probably, in at least a few cases, they’re probably users equally unsure about trusting me and so never bring it up!

  29. Marijuana is the main focus to legalize but take a step back and look at all the corruption with the whole drug war.
    Does anyone even open their eyes to take a look at just what is going on? Call this a conspiracy theory if you want but the Government has no interest in other countries and their cocaine so seizure of cocaine shippments has been in the news often before it reaches the shores.
    Anyone realize that there hasn’t been any major shippments of heroin caught coming out of Afghanistan going to Mexico or the U.S. They won’t find heroin until it’s in a 18 wheeler going across the Mexican/US border.
    No heroin being found on ships and planes coming from places like Afghanistan, the very country the U.S occupies.
    No big bulks of heroin seized before reaching the shores coming from Afghanistan.
    Make a cocaine bust out at sea, make it look good for the drug war in the headlines. In the meantime heroin makes it in from overseas un detected.

  30. #29 Joad – you are a hypocrite. You want weed legal but you don’t want anyone to know you smoke. You are a detriment to the movement.

  31. Right on! I watch PBS more the any other channel. And it is the channel to watch if you want to learn anything. They tried to wrap the the flag around alcohol prohibition, same as they always have done with marijuana prohibition.

  32. You are correct when you state the federal government claims cannabis has no medical value, but you forgot to mention the 4 surviving participants in the Federal IND program who receive monthly cannabis supplies for only one reason: its medical value.

  33. 39 Robert Delaney
    You’re right on Robert. The IND is the FDA. That program is so old we should be considering it’s funeral not its birth. You would think they have the results by now.

  34. @ # 37 Owen
    When I was in Jr High School I used to wear a pot leaf neckless. I liked smoking pot and didn’t care if the world knew it. Well, I soon learned how much trouble one can bring down on oneself when one shares his personal business with the world. I’m past that advertise stage now and more prudent. I share my business with people I acutally want in my life. I see nothing hypocritical about that.

  35. I really liked this post,and am glad to tell my people about a beautiful way to activate in our communities. Thanks for keeping your site so up to date. If you are interested in checking out more original content on the subject check out Peace & Love

  36. Joad is exactly right. Back in school, ( I know we’re all suppossed to pretend we didn’t smoke weed before we were 18, now that’s hypocracy) the definition of cool was not someone who smoked MJ, but someone who did it without advertising it. I’m sure everyone knew a Paul of Tarsus, you know the Eric Cartman who hated stoners, then tried it, liked it,then ran all over the school telling just about everyone, and usually ended up getting busted. Kudos to Joad. Not to diss Owen. He’s right about the DUI thing, ( I know were all supposed to pretend we wait at least 3 hours after smokeing before we drive, there’s that H word again) but I’m afraid that battles already been lost. Hit the wrong person and blood pressure meds will result in DUI, fault in most traffic accidents is determined by the social status of each party.
    Nothing in this country is the way it is because it has merit, votes and money people. It doesn’t matter if 99% of the people say legalize MJ in polls, as long as it’s not something enough to determine a vote, it doesn’t matter. Remember when Willie Nelson endorsed Gary Johnson, remember all the comments on non Norml sites. “What,,, your your gonna vote for someone JUST BECAUSE he wants to legalize MJ.” Try using that reasoning with an NRA member, ” What your gonna vote for someone just because he’s pro-gun.” They won’t even blink. YES, absolutely. That’s why you can go meet the president with an AK47 on your shoulder, but they have to test your urine to see if you smoked MJ in your own home sometime in the last month.

  37. With regard to advertising, there’s a right way and a wrong way. But hiding in the closet is a win for the prohibs.
    I walk up to perfect strangers all the time and start conversations about legalization. Nothing wrong with that.

  38. Well more power to ya Owen and I mean that sincearly. If you started in 73 and I started in 76, then we probably agree on a lot of things like Pink Floyd, girls that say ” that’s what my father always says” and starting every other sentence with ” back in the day”. Salutation’s aside we now live in a world that unfortunatly has one other thing we didn’t used to have growing up in the 70’s. PERMANENT RECORDS
    Teachers and law enforcement used to threaten us with that and we wonderered how they could do so with a straight face. Yeah, I’m sure 35 years from now a potential employer is gonna call every single Police Dept in America and convince someone to go down in the basement and sort thru all the police reports from 1978 and find out that a 17 year old was busted for a bong. Today that kind of background search takes less than a second online and that arrest follows you forever and ever. Own your own home, they can seize,( or as we used to say, steal) it. Want to join the military serve your country, not gonna happen. Dito for college. Doctors sworn to do no harm will even let you die without a transplant just because of that one arrest. Though to be fair you can still, as a current pot smoker, donate a kidney or a liver, you just can’t recieve one. Get a job ? any job ? not even garbage man?, better be related to the boss.
    The head guy (no pun, as you’ll soon read) of my local NORML is somewhat of a celebrity in my town. Knew of him before I knew him, because I read about him in the paper over 30 years ago. It was a local fluff story about a high school senior, jock, student council, straight A student, who by the way also thought Marijuana should be legal. Since then he’s fought the good fight. I mean it, year after year, you can find him, ( or more likely he’ll find you ) every time there’s a petition for decrim, or medical, or lowest priority, he’s there. I’ve seen him out in Hurricane rain storms, tornado sirens blaring, and he’s on a grocery store parking lot asking you to sign the latest petition. Go to the State Capitol during any legislative session and he has a booth out in the hallway, I’ve seen legislators stop by, call him by his first name, shake his hand, ask about his wife, even heard one say “keep up the good work”. We know alot of the same people, to my knowledge he’s never been arrested, in fact I’ve never met anyone who says they have ever, ever seen him smoke. He always sticks with the “I want to change the law, not break the law”, philosophy. He also supports himself, as he has since high school, by mowing yards. He’s never been employed by anyone. And if you can do that, my hat is off to you, really.
    We can’t all do that, that doesn’t mean we’re cowards. I figure if the, “probably” at least one out of four americans who smoke pot regularly, and virtually anybody under 70 who tried it at least once and therefore knows, KNOWS, that MJ is not the same thing as Heroin, coke, or even tobacco or beer, can’t get together under one political banner, vote as a bloc, voting’s anonomous remember, and demand what we want, instead of eternally begging which has gotten us virtally nowhere in 40 years, If we can’t even vote someone marginally better on pot, because they belong to the wrong party, or even withold our vote and let the other side win until yours comes around. Then I’m not gonna Kamikazee my future by being forever on YOUTUBE in Washington D.C. marching with 150 fellow pot heads in this years million stoner march. You can’t go into a store in any city in this country, plunk down a thousand dollars and walk out an hour later with semi-auto Thompson sub machine gun, with 100 round drum because the Govt sees logic in this, or thinks it will make the world a safer place, or that I need that kind of gun to kill a deer. No and I mean not one politico in my Southern state would even consider saying a word not compleatly supportive of my ability to do so, because they know they’d be out of a job quicker than you can say recall. And I would like to buy that Tommy gun, so no please no death threats you 2nd amendment heads. I 1. don;t happen to have an extra thousand dolars, 2. don’t really feel like shooting anything right now and 3. know that possession of a gun doubles penalties for possession of herb in my state. I’m just sayin it’s a little funny that I can legally buy an a weapon of mass destruction, no (real)questions asked, yet they have to make me pee in a jar because thats the only way they can determine if I rolled up a leaf and smoked it while listening to Pink Floyd in my livingroom last week. Any way if your still reading, that’s this weeks way too long rant.
    Those of you who want to protest publicly, I saulute you, but you young uns need to know there are some very real and very lasting consiquences if things go south for you.
    I always say ” I don’t like being old now, but I’m glad I was young when I was .” Except of course around those girls at work whose mothers definatly did not look like that “back in the day”.
    Dirty old man, YES, Jailbird and or Coward, NO

  39. Re 6. TH and 22. The American Genesist:
    It is mistaken to believe that prohibition was wrong for cannabis but OK for the other plants or substances that have been criminalized for so long now.
    Three quotes from an article that I wrote for the Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation (Stichting Drugsbeleid) in May 2001:
    “The differences between various drugs are not absolute, they are gradual. The arguments in favour of legalizing cannabis apply all the more to other illicit drugs: their prohibition only increases the health risks and puts the market in the hands of criminals.(…)
    Every observed or assumed health risk of an illicit drug reinforces the defence of the legal regulation of its production and sale. In other words, it is not the exact extent to which a substance is dangerous that is decisive as regards whether it should be prohibited or legalized. This does not mean health risks are unimportant, it just means they should be addressed at a different point in the discussion, namely when the regulations are concretely stipulated. (…)
    It is high time cannabis was legalized, but not at the expense of the users of other illicit drugs.”
    The article is entitled “How does the legal regulation of cannabis compare to that of other illicit drugs? The merit of health arguments in the legalization debate” and can be found at
    Frederik Polak, M.D., psychiatrist
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  40. 48. Frederik Polak, M.D., psychiatrist
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands E:
    Dear Doctor,
    Thank you for your input, it is greatly appreciated, accepted, and respected. First, let me say that I am absolutely in favor of Harm Reduction, especially because of the additive substances. However, aside from the addictive personality of the individual, notwithstanding, cannabis is non-addictive, and non-toxic – but – look who I’m saying that to. In all candidness, I must say that I am personally anti-drug and anti-tobacco, assuredly anything addictive. This of course is my personal choice and not to be confused with the addicted’s personal choice. As I clearly stated government can’t regulate morality – and – has no right to dictate what one can introduce to one’s own body [most especially if recommended by a physician]. On the other hand, the ramifications of hard drug use is a matter of society – not that society should dictate, but rather, if a crime is committed due to the use of drugs i.e. tweekers, society must act on its laws to prevent further crime. Government is duty bound to protect its citizenry from outside, and inside aggression – and – there’s nothing more aggressive than a tweeker. Once again, thank you.

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