Volstead Act Law and Legal Definition

Volstead Act is the popular name for the National Prohibition Act 1919. It enabled federal enforcement of the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which had banned the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors in the U.S. The Act also provides for the definition of intoxicating liquors, medicinal use, and criminal penalties. The Act specified that no person shall manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, furnish or possess any intoxicating liquor except as authorized by this act. It did not specifically prohibit the purchase or use of intoxicating liquors. Later on, production, importation and distribution of alcoholic beverages were taken over by criminal gangs, which fought each other for market control in violent confrontations. Moreover, the Act lost its popularity as alcohol gained increasing social acceptance. As a result, on December 5, 1933, the nation ratified the twenty-first amendment, which repealed the eighteenth amendment and made the Act unconstitutional, and restored control of alcohol to the states.