Famously, Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved the United States banking system during the first seven days of his first term.
And what did he do on the eighth day? "I think this would be a good time for beer," he said.
Congress had already repealed Prohibition, pending ratification from the states. But the people needed a lift, and legalizing beer would create a million jobs. And lo, booze was back. Two days after the bill passed, Milwaukee brewers hired six hundred people and paid their first $10 million in taxes. Soon the auto industry was tooling up the first $12 million worth of delivery trucks, and brewers were pouring tens of millions into new plants.
"Roosevelt's move to legalize beer had the effect he intended," says Adam Cohen, author of Nothing To Fear, a thrilling new history of FDR's first hundred days. "It was, one journalist observed, 'like a stick of dynamite into a log jam.'"
Many in the marijuana world are now hoping for something similar from Barack Obama. After all, the president-elect said in 2004 that the war on drugs had been "an utter failure" and that America should decriminalize pot: