During Prohibition, drinkers never knew what they would get when they set out to slake their thirst. Bootleggers often sold products adulterated with industrial alcohol and other toxins. Some 10,000 people were fatally poisoned before America gave up this grand experiment in suppressing vice.
The biggest toll from modern drug prohibition, writes Steve Chapman, comes among opioid users. By making criminals of many people who are dependent on prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, the law exiles them to the black market. There, consumers may find legitimate FDA-approved medicines, but they may also buy counterfeit versions or heroin—which often carry far greater hazards.