Prescription for alcohol during Prohibition, 1923

[Treasury Department Prescription Blank - National Prohibition Act], November 19, 1923. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)At midnight, January 16, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol took effect. The Eighteenth Amendment banned the manufacture and sale (but not the possession, consumption, or transportation) of "intoxicating liquors." One exception to the ban was alcohol needed for medicinal purposes. The Internal Revenue Service, which was charged with enforcing prohibition, issued special, watermarked prescription forms to doctors who could prescribe "Spiritus Frumenti" (alcohol) to their patients. Loopholes abounded; Dr. McCarter, who issued this prescription to Ira Altsman of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, was a coroner. Altsman filled his prescription the same day it was written.

A full transcript is available.