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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Could Prohibition Make a Comeback?

The United States of America was alcohol free between the years of 1920 and 1934. At least that's what the law of the land said. You could still get a drink during those years, you were just breaking the law doing so. Most people credit Prohibition with helping to turn many law-abiding citizens into criminals and create one of this country's most enduring businesses: organized crime.

So why would anyone want to go back to the days when you had to go into the basement of a candy store or the backroom of a florist to get a beer? Few people actually advocate the outright elimination of beer, wine and spirits across the board. Yes, the Prohibition Party still fields candidates every four years to run for President and Vice President. But they are the exception. For the most part, the new kind of Prohibition involves people wanting to tell us where and when we can responsibly enjoy a glass of our favorite adult beverage. They don't like to see other people drinking and point to the behavior of a few drunks as the reason all of us should switch to iced tea. If you doubt me, consider these facts:

The Washington State Liquor Control Board today is expected to approve a ban of a number of beer and wine brands in several Seattle neighborhoods. Residents in several parts of Seattle, one of the cradles of the American craft beer movement, say they want to put an end to litter, panhandling and other problems they associate with street drunks. The proposal calls for two "alcohol-impact areas," one covering downtown, the Central Area, Chinatown International District, Belltown, Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill and the other covering the University District. The city's list of banned products would include 28 brands, all of them cheaper high-alcohol beers and fortified wines. The offending brands include Colt 45 Malt Liquor, Old Milwaukee Ice, Busch Ice, Steel Reserve, Cisco, Richard's Wild Irish Rose and Thunderbird.

Alcohol has been banned from the Green River around Asheville in western North Carolina. People complained that partiers had gotten out of control with "booze and tube" float trips down the river. Polk County voted to ban alcohol on all rivers in the county. Similar measures against floating happy hours have been proposed in Texas, Illinois and California.

Groups are placing pressure on San Diego lawmakers to ban alcohol on three popular beaches around the California city. This comes after voters said no to a referendum in 2002 that would have resulted in a one year trial ban of alcohol on the same beaches.

Activists in Columbus, Ohio, failed in an attempt to get enough signatures on petitions to get a referendum on the November ballot that would ban alcohol sales throughout the city's 7th Ward. They say they will keep trying and hope to have enough names in time for a special February election.


Mike said...

I find this interesting especially since places with longstanding blue laws such as Massachusetts have been striking them down, yet other places are going in the opposite direction. Here's an article from 2004 I dug up referencing other mostly East Coast states.

Rick Lyke said...

It is quite amazing. I find the move in Seattle to be interesting I don't know how they can legally block one high alcohol brand and not another. I bet there are some beer bars or upscale restaurants in the excluded zones with Belgian ales or barley wines from Pacific Northwest brewers that are much higher in alcohol.