Loosening liquor laws

The state controls all liquor sales through its ABC stores, and it wants to keep it that way.
The state controls all liquor sales through its ABC stores, and it wants to keep it that way. OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

From an editorial in Wednesday’s (Greensboro) News & Record:

A big omnibus bill all about booze really ought to be more fun. But House Bill 909, which would change eight separate areas of the state’s complex and arcane alcohol laws, is mostly a bore.

There is one provision that’s given some powerful interests a bit of a hangover.

The bill would allow distilleries to sell you a bottle of their spirits when you take a tour of their facilities.

Fairly simple – and it would be a boon to businesses.

But, while you can buy wine from a winery and beer from a brewery, under current state law you can only buy spirits – gin, whiskey, vodka, etc. – from an Alcoholic Beverage Commission store, regulated by local government boards.

The North Carolina Association of ABC Boards would like to keep it that way. It argues local governments would miss their cut of local liquor sales taxes if distilleries could sell bottles to the public.

State Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, says the bill is meant to allow the sale of just one bottle of liquor per person per year from any one distillery. But a lobbyist for the ABC Boards says even that is too slippery a slope.

The same contention was made by the Rev. Mark Creech, director of the North Carolina Christian Action League.

As reported by Mark Binker of WRAL, Creech said excusing distilleries could lead to the loosening of liquor sales laws in other places.

“You cannot give a right and a privilege to one group and then withhold it from another,” Creech said. “It’s like a chip in the windshield for your car. The crack will just spread.”

Sure, Reverend. But in this case the windshield is an illogical, outmoded, needlessly restrictive system of alcohol sales. And that crack? We call that freedom.