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Webb-Kenyon Act

  • By: Richard F. Hamm
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

The prohibitionist movement's most significant legislation before national prohibition was the 1913 Webb-Kenyon Act. The passage of the Webb-Kenyon Act marked the political maturation of the prohibition movement and set the course for national prohibition. Prohibition forces overcame determined political opposition in Congress and constitutional objections to their measure. The idea behind the act was that the federal government should assist, or at least not interfere, with the operation of state laws that prohibited the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. This concept of concurrent power of state and federal governments was written into the Eighteenth Amendment and underlay the national prohibition enforcement act, the Volstead Act.

Federal courts’ interpretation of the commerce power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries seriously undercut the ...

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