It was on a post from The Passionate Foodie, yesterday, that I read about it: today marks the 75th anniversary of the Presidential Proclamation of the repeal of Prohibition, a US Constitutional amendment that caused a lot of criminality and made fortunes for Canadian distillers, among other things.
While Franklin D. Roosevelt had announced his intention to repeal Prohibition from the time he ran for President, it was only on December 5, 1933 that the Constitutional amendment repealing the one that had brought it into effect actually was validated. Indeed, it was on that day that Utah (!) became the 36th State to approve what then became the 21st amendment.
It’s certainly worth cheering that anniversary. Moderation being much preferable than prohibition, obviously.
But it’s interesting to note that the legacy of Prohibition is still with us to this day, in Canada as much as in the United States. You can see it in the legal approach of all questions surrounding alcoholic beverages, an approach that can be summed up like this: nothing is permitted, unless otherwise stated.
The result is seen, for instance, in the severe limits that still regulate interstate or interprovincial commerce of wine and spirits – or even distribution and sales in Provinces and States. British Columbia wineries recently got warnings about their practice of shipping wine directly to out-of-province customers, something which got a lot of reaction in the press, both specialized and general (see here, here and here). The absurd situation, in the case of Canadian wineries, is that it’s easier for them to ship to the US than it is to ship to other provinces.
I believe the legacy of Prohibition is also seen in North America’s relationship with alcohol generally, a wild oscillation between boozing and dry counties. Quite a ways from the Mediterranean culture that sees wine as part of daily life, as a regular drink and a tasty part of what you ingest daily, rather than as a way to get wasted on Friday nights. So when you toast to the Anniversary of the 21st amendment, please do it with a glass of wine, at dinner, with some friends.