Speakeasy: Medicinal Alcohol & Prohibition Prescriptions

During Prohibition, the U.S. Treasury Department authorized physicians to write prescriptions for medicinal alcohol. Licensed doctors, with pads of government-issued prescription forms printed on treasury paper, advised their patients to take regular doses of hooch to stave off a number of ailments—cancer, indigestion and depression among them.

Alcohol is a depressant, which may have some of us wondering if this wasn’t pure quackery. It was.

“Presumably, doctors were doing examinations and diagnoses, but it was mostly bogus,” says Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition


E 108142 Medical Alcohol Permit – Prescription: Whiskey – (Empire Distillery) Easton PA.  – issued to Mr. P. Barron on 3.16.1929


We are now experiencing the same ordeal with Medical Cannabis, which many hopefuls are waiting to see legalized. There is an ongoing argument whether or not the Government should have full control over the plant; distribution and taxation which would help grow the economy, or to legalize allowing the people to have more control; growing themselves.  There are many Medical Cannabis distribution centres opening in some US and Canadian cities, where you can choose a strain with different levels of THC that best suits your needs. If you do not like the idea of inhaling smoke, which is completely understandable, there is another option for you – edibles!  Delicious, medicated cookies and other baked goods are available. Marijuana was the name given to Cannabis during the reefer madness era, therefore we will call it by the plant’s proper name – Cannabis.


This privilege was one of the few legal exceptions to the 13-year ban on the production, sale and distribution of alcohol, initiated in 1920 by the 18th Amendment. The National Prohibition Act, which enforced the ban, also allowed farmers to produce wine for their own consumption and priests, ministers and rabbis to serve it during religious ceremonies.


B 90371 Medical Alcohol Permit – Sedalia, MO. – issued by Dr. Fowler on 3.4.1924 to Mr. R. J. Wood

Every ten days, patients willing to pay about $3 for a prescription and another $3 or $4 to have it filled could get a pint of booze. “There may have been some people who were being prescribed because there was a perceived medical need, but it was really a way for some physicians and pharmacists to make a few extra bucks,” he says.


A 37588 Medical Alcohol Permit (Brewer Missouri Pharmacy Bar – Man Cave) Sedalia, MO.-  issued to Mr. Fisher on 10.4.1923

Both Canada and the USA experienced the great days of prohibition, making speakeasy clubs such as the Man Cave, popular spots to get your fix of hooch. Al Capone, is obviously one of the big names that will be forever attached to the History of Prohibition.

The Sleeman family tradition was passed down from generation to generation. Father to son, again and again.


On the heels of the roaring twenties, prohibition set in. In their true rebellious nature, the Sleeman family kept their beer flowing, brokering deals with bootleggers and gangsters like Al Capone.


No. 2483 Ted’s “Give Inn” Club speakeasy membership card

If you weren’t a member of a club, such as the Man Cave, you could have received an invitation by a friend who carried a membership card. Personal home parties were also the rage. Invitations were handed out in the form of business cards, which could be easily hidden away by tucking the card into a wallet or clutch.

– altered by Hystoria

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