Thursday, November 17, 2005

ABCA Decides to Play Nanny, Bans 190 Proof Grain Alcohol from WV Liquor Stores

Those who want the Real Thing and not the watered-down 151 stuff will just go to Kentucky or Maryland or order online when it's time to restock.In a blow to individual freedom, the West Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration yesterday issued an immediate ban on the sale of grain alcohol over 151 proof in all West Virginia liquor stores. This ban was without any meaningful public notice and took effect immediately.

While this decision is within the law, it's blatant nanny-state paternalism. The news coverage of this announcement even emphasized the intent of reducing the potency of drinks at college parties by noting the preponderance of grain alcohol sales in college towns and the behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts by WVU to reduce the limit on alcohol in liquor sold in West Virginia from 190 proof to 151 proof.

Of course, anyone familiar with West Virginia liquor laws already knows we have tried to play the benevolent nanny since the end of Prohibition. Beer and wine can be bought at any grocery store or convenience store; liquor can only be bought at a handful of liquor stores licensed under a cartel-type "zone" system. Beer and wine can be sold at night until 2 A.M.; liquor sales must stop by 10 P.M. Beer and wine can be sold on Sunday afternoons, but not liquor. Of course, most laughably, the state seems to think it's actually promoting honest elections by prohibiting liquor sales on election days. At least we were never dumb enough to require bars to sell liquor by mini-bottles instead as South Carolina used to; talk about a dumb law.

Those of you who still want the Real Thing and not the watered-down 151 proof stuff West Virginia now requires can buy 190 proof in Kentucky or Maryland or over the Internet.